• James Parry

Everyone is a winner with Bingo Ladies The Musical at Hudson Village Theatre


West Island native Mary Pitt (right) shares the stage with Laura Caswell and Elinor Holt in the Hudson Village Theatre production of Bingo Ladies, a fun and outrageous show set in the bingo hall where all the players have their eye on the prize.

Perhaps hard to believe today, and not too long ago at that, Bingo was the name of the game for tens of thousands of thrill-seekers and wannabe winners throughout Quebec. And indeed Canada. This was before governments began actively promoting their own multi-million-dollar programs on TV and in retail outlets to such an extent that it makes one’s head spin. Considering that it was once considered to be illegal. And on-line poker is readily available on the ‘puter.

But no such problem with Bingo. Armed with their own markers and daubers, and often with lucky mascots in tow, the Bingo brigade with a few bucks in their pockets would flock to community and church halls, and even to more professional so-called Bingo Palaces, for a flutter on bouncing balls and different coloured cards. With part of the proceeds, however miniscule, going to a designated local worthwhile charity.

Sometimes more than once a week, depending on their dedication – some might even call it addiction – to the game believed to have been taken back to England by British soldiers returning from troubles in India in Victorian times. Apparently, they had played it to while away the time when not otherwise actively or pro-actively engaged. Bingo being an Indian word for ‘Got it!’

At least that’s the story I once heard and have never been given reason to doubt it.

Well, there is certainly no doubt in my mind at least that Hudson Village Theatre has certainly ‘Got it’ this month with one of the funniest, brilliantly staged and performed, and most moving musicals I’ve seen in years. And a winner in every sense of the word.

The creation of playwright-composer-lyricist, Grant Tilly, and directed by Elizabeth Gilroy – both of whom were in the audience on opening night last week – it is titled Bingo Ladies The Musical running through August 30.

First staged in its complete form at the Port Stanley Theatre Festival last summer to rave reviews, let’s set the scene, again a winner by set designer, Jo-Anne Vezina. It’s Friday night at the Bingo hall and the gloves are off.

Carol, a middle–aged waitress (played by Elinor Holt) desperately needs to win to pay off her sizeable debts. Her best friend, Sandi (Laura Caswell) tags along because she’s entertaining romantic ideas about the Bingo caller, Lou (Mark Allan) whose still grappling with the loss of his lifelong dream to front a rock band. And rounding out the quirky cast is Irene (Mary Pitt) a cantankerous septuagenarian know–it–all, oxygen tank in tow, who always wins.

How far are these diehard Bingo fans willing to go to win the big jackpot? Or even just four corners to cover the price of their card?

Ah, but that would be telling. Suffice to say that each cast member is simply superb in their role with solo voices and harmonies to match. Spot-on timing with surprises galore. And, without giving the game away, all may not be as it appears with dear old Irene!

Have to admit I think I’m now addicted to Bingo Ladies The Musical. And would see it again in a heartbeat. It’s that good!

The number for you to call, by the way, should you wish to check it out, is (450) 458–5361 or go to hvtbox@videotron.ca. And no daubers nor troll mascots required!

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