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Peer None Players stage an evening of fun

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Looking for an evening of laughter and fun this summer? Before you look anywhere else get your lucky daubers out and come on up to New London ladies and gents!

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Peer None Players offers up The Queen of Bingo tonight at 7:30 p.m. at The Little Theatre. Bingo-obsessed sisters, portrayed by the equally sizzling Louise Mack and Laurel Iverson, will entertain audiences tonight through Saturday, July 22-24, 30 and Aug. 1 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee at 3 p.m. Aug. 2.

This play, written by Jeanne Michels and Phyllis Murphy, has something for everyone. Come enjoy an intermission bingo game with Father Mac played quirkily and with ease by Michael Hall of Grand Rapids, Mich. Sit back and listen to the peppy pre-show polka music that welcomes you to the world of bingo or just enjoy the view of the cleverly and intricately built church basement set designed by Chris McAninch. It is truly perfect and just the right touch for a church basement bingo escapade.

The setting is complete with post-wedding reception decor, a bulletin board filled with church field trip ads, quilting bee registrations and knitting needles hanging to be claimed. Not one detail in this production has been spared from set to lights to costumes to sound and the audience is welcomed gladly with gossip and catty comments by characters Sis (Mack) and Babe (Iverson) who have arrived late to their weekly Bingo game.

The comedy and tragedy of the play centers on the loneliness and the neuroses of characters Sis and Babe. Sis's consolation prize for her loneliness is escaping to bingo nights at local haunts and jaunting up to St. Cloud to spend an evening of daubing at the "Bingo Palace."

Mack's portrayal of Sis helping Babe and budging into others' lives is done with just the right touch of pushiness and love without being overbearing.

For Iverson's Babe her comfort is in her binge eating habits and, more recently, holing up in her home for two weeks prior to the night at hand. Problems begin for the team of lucky charm-toting sisters when they arrive late and can't get their usual seats for their weekly bingo fun. Babe, who has recently decided to return from her seclusion and binging to the world of bingo (in a caftan!), has a series of mood swings that take the audience for quite a roller coaster ride as Sis tries to hide Babe's quirks and get her younger sister back to earth and bingo.

Iverson's portrayal of a moody, binge-eating, sugar-rushed woman are spot-on and any weight-watcher can empathize with her obsession with her expanding waistline.

With "The Queen of Bingo" Peer None Players welcomes Minneapolis director Mark Manfils who has done a convincing job staging this small ensemble and his use of sound, light, movement and comedic bits help move the play along and create an interesting story and night of enjoyment for all. Manfils and company have also brought out some non-campy moments in the piece so that the audience will not only enjoy laughs but also a few touching moments and perhaps tears.

Favorite moments include soliloquies performed by both Mack and Iverson with loads of class and their own little spotlight from above to highlight what is really making them tick on bingo night. The play would not be complete without the stage managing assistance of Abigail Duly who also doubles as the voice of Flo, the flat-affect bingo number announcing church dame that definitely inflicts laughs on all. Besides playing Father Mac, Michael Hall does the bingo calling for the evening with spunk and finesse.

Deb Nelson's costumes impress as well as Eric Harp's technical theater skills. This piece owes much credit to their, no-joking, Bingo Consultant! Vicki Vogt serves Peer None Players well in advising the director, actors and production team on "Bingo Lingo" and rules and regulations of the game.

Audiences in the area will leave this amusing production with time after for more evening fun since it runs a little under two hours. Viewers will also exit with a smile, not sweat, due to the top-notch air conditioning of the Little Theatre. All in all, get ready for a fun, cool night of theater and get your tickets "B-4" they run out.

Tickets are available by calling 320-295-3524 or 320-354-2559. Adult tickets are $12 and children under 18 are $7. For more information on Peer None Players please visit www.peernoneplayers.com.

Nikki Bettcher Erickson is a freelance theatre artist and has worked coast to coast as a professional actor and director.

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