For those of you who loved “Tony and Tina’s Wedding” and miss the opportunity that one had by going to an interactive “play”, there is a new kid on the block! The block is a little further North, on Belmont (just East of the Belmont Avenue Theater District, aka Stage 773 and Theater Wit) and the evening is not a wedding, but rather a fund raiser for two churches that are merging, but the concept is the same. It is a night out! It is a night filled with party antics and in this particular case, some drinking, Italian food and “Bingo”! The show is called “We Gotta Bingo” and the newly constructed Chicago Theater Works, located at 1113 West Belmont is the home here in Chicago (after several seasons in Minneapolis).
Creator Bill Collins, who was born and raised here in Chicago, felt that our theater crazy audiences would fall in love with this wild evening of sun and spirits, which is why he decided to bring the show here. I will tell you that he has found the right people to be in the show- some solid talents who mingle well with the audience for the entire evening. When we enter the Beer Garden known as “Der Brew-Ha-Ha” we are greeted by a polka band and lots of characters, who might well be caricatures representing the memberships of the two churches that are being merged into one. The churches are one that is all Irish and the other Italian and as the evening goes on, even they learn that they need to learn to live together.
I will not spoil any of the fun by giving out information that will spoil your experience. The table assignments are a mixed bag and it is very possible that your table-mates will be actors who are characters in the evenings festivities. There is a bar (of course) and while it is a fully stocked one, the dinner and show tickets does not include these drinks (only soft drinks). As I said earlier, the idea of the evening is a dinner and Bingo game. We ended up playing five or six specific games with prizes, including the final game of the evening with a major prize that will get you very excited. The other prizes are items that may one day become collectors items. I am still trying to figure out who’s closet they raided to find these items ( or are they the hidden treasure that W-G-N Radio’s Bob and Marianne are trying to give away?)?
Our Emcee is Father Duncan (Gary Smiley) who represents the Irish group. He is countered by Rosa (the very agile Jane Allyson-D’Arienzo) who represents the Italian group along with her hubby Rudy (Jerome R. Marzullo, who looks like he used to hang with Tony Soprano, himself). They also have a son, Jeremy (ably handled by Mitch Conti) who becomes a surprise to the audience. Helmut (Michael Tatar) our host and his kids, identical twins, from different mothers, Franny (Molly Rehner) and Mollie (Alisha Fabbi) and their brother, Steven (Riley Mcilveen) are involved with keeping the evening flowing.
The bingo game itself is run by host Bucky (deftly handled by Merrick Robison) and his blonde bombshell assistant Darla (the vivacious Jessica Scott) with the aid of Sister Gigi, Tamara White (a wonderful singer), Ty Rood and Jennifer Pompa. Remember, all of these people will have stopped by your table during the evening to say hello and check you out as you may be from the other Parish. Let’s face it , it doesn’t matter your religious upbringing to understand the value of the evening. We all know that the people are a combination of the characters we hear about and that are portrayed in many movies an dplays- this evening is designed to distract us from the everyday items on the news and for just three hours, transport us to a place where we can laugh, sing, dance, have a drink (or two) and play bingo.
This is a new experience for Chicago and therefore we are unsure as to how long it will continue. They call this an open run, meaning that as long as they are selling enough tickets to pay their bills, they will continue to run the show. It is not a great show, but it is a fun evening and very entertaining. If you can open your mind and heart to not analyzing, but just enjoying, you will walk away with a huge smile on your face and since the food ( supplied by Giordano’s) is yummy, you will certainly get your money’s worth. Incidently, each table gets a table captain, who (and this will not spoil anything) goes to the kitchen and comes back with the food, wearing an apron and a hairnet (my wife won this title and served a fabulous dinner).
Tickets for this show are$49 including the dinner and non-alcoholic beverage and are available at 312-391-0404 or online at www.wegottabingo.com. Groups can visit www.grouptix.net or call 773-327-3778. This is a fun show for a group (church, Temple etc) to go to together.
Performances are Fridays at 7 p.m.
Saturdays at 8:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5 p.m.
It is about one hour into the show before dinner is served, so don’t come hungry. Parking is a meter situation and I suggest you watch the time on that as the show is over 2 1/2 hours, and many meters are only 2 hour limits. There are spaces on the surrounding streets, non metered.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “We Gotta Bingo”.