‘Queen of Bingo’ ready to be crowned

Asheville Citizen Times

The set had yet to be painted and the stage lights were unfocused last week. But the two women playing sisters were concentrating like crazy to remember their lines for “The Queen of Bingo,” playing at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts May 12-14 and 19-20.

“Comedy is a lot of hard work,” the play’s director Kay Wise-Denty, “and we are all having a ball.”

Last week, the set was a few days from completion. Costumes for the actors were being readied. During a recent rehearsal, actor Connie Hurst called for a line, and assistant director Mary Ann Heinen calmly offered the words as written by playwrights Jeanne Michaels and Phyllis Murphy.

“At this stage of the game, we're discovering new things about the play and the characters,” said Hurst a lifelong theater devotee, actor, writer and singer who has performed in professional and community theater from North Carolina to Southern Florida.

“We're getting more comfortable in our skins,” said Hurst, who plays older sister Sis. “We have had such fun finding the right balance between the play’s humor and its treatment of real life situations.”

As the actors worked out a section of dialogue on stage, Steve Jencks, who plays the bingo caller,, stood in the back of the theater experimenting with sound levels, something to which this radio veteran is accustomed. Actor Michael Crosa adjusted priest’s collar his character wears and paced the lobby awaiting his cue, silently mouthing his lines.

“This has been so much fun,” he whispered. “Everyone is wonderful to work with.” Crosa plays Father Mackenzie, the new assistant pastor at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church where the play is set.

Debbie Sinclair, who has performed off Broadway, plays younger sister Babe and loves the challenge of the rehearsal process and the end result.

“I love being involved in live theater,” she said. “I feel it is an art form that still has importance in the community. It’s magical and a great way to bring people together.”

After four weeks of rehearsing three nights a week, the volunteers creating the set, props, lights and sound, as well as the cast and crew hope the community will come see them work their magic.

“The Queen of Bingo” will be performed May 12 and 13 and May 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m. There will be a matinee on May 14 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased by calling 669-0930 or visiting

The Black Mountain Center for the Arts is at 225 W. State St.