Vicki Quade, creator of “Put the Nuns in Charge” and co-writer of “Late Nite Catechism,” has put together an interactive show filled with Catholic humor. Our Lady of Good Fortune is in need of money. So, Mrs. Mary Margaret O’Brien (Vicki Quade) decides to host a good old-fashioned bingo fundraiser.
As with “Late Nite Catechism” the host of “Bible Bingo” rotates among several actresses. The show is scripted, but is lightly improvised based on audience participation. Quade had little trouble entertaining the largely Catholic audience the night I attended. She is a truly gifted improviser. Even her conversations with a few rather tipsy audience members were handled with the utmost professionalism and cunning humor, commenting that they were “filled with spirit, but not the Holy Spirit.” Her quick wit solidifies why “Late Nite Catechism” has been running for more than twenty years.
The set looks like a typical Catholic school classroom—large teacher’s desk, chalkboard, bookcase and walls lined with the cursive alphabet, presidents of the United States and images of saints. As in any class, participation is key to getting the most out of it. Upon entering the theater, audience members select a bingo card. Quade greets the “players” and talks briefly about why they are there—to raise funds for the Church. In her greeting she presents the “Ten Commandments of Bingo,” which are shown to the audience on cardboard tablets. A volunteer helper is then selected from the audience, asked to shuffle a deck of bingo cards and pick prizes, and the real fun begins.
While the bingo games are fairly traditional (4-corners, diagonals, inside square, etc.), a few games are more religiously themed, like cross and “H” (Heaven/Hell) games. Between games and as numbers are called, religious trivia is interspersed. And, yes, there are prizes. Holy cards, glow in the dark rosaries, various religious necklaces, and even some old records, among other things.
In the tradition of most interactive shows and every Catholic school, latecomers are called out; some are even asked to give a dollar to charity, which Quade gladly accepts. Through collections and performances, Quade and her company have raised more than $2 million for various orders of nuns around the world. So, although some of the humor may make some folks a bit uncomfortable, it’s fair to say the premise of the show can leave audience members of any age and religion feeling like winners. Isn’t that what a good game of bingo is all about? (Mary Kroeck)
Royal George Theatre, 1641 North Halsted, (312)988-9000, theroyalgeorgetheatre.com. $30. Open Run.