Rehearsals underway for ‘Bingo!’

July 24, 2011

 Submitted by Sherry McGee , Published on July 20, 2011, CB Post

Presented by Mulgrave Road Theatre, “Bingo!” will be staged at Neptune Studio Theatre in Halifax July 26-27, Chedabucto Place Performance Centre in Guysborough July 29-30, and at the Savoy Theatre in Glace Bay, Aug. 2-3

Heather Rankin is no stranger to the stage.  She’s a member of the renowned Rankin Family band which has toured and performed extensively over the years, and she’s a respected actress having taken on various roles in feature films and plays over the years.

But even with that experience behind her, Rankin said it was a “big leap” for her to take on a role in “Bingo!” the latest play from fellow Cape Bretoner Daniel MacIvor, an award-winning writer, director, and actor.

“I’ve been away from the theatre, I haven’t done anything really in 10 years, with the exception of a couple of cameos in films,” explained Rankin. “I think comedy is a good way to get back into it.” And “Bingo!” fit the bill.

MacIvor wrote and is directing the play and an all-star cast has signed to the project — Rankin, Emmy Alcorn, who is artistic director of Mulgrave Road Theatre, as well as talented actors Marty Burt, John Beale and Ryan Rogerson. They’ve all been rehearsing for weeks for the six-date run of “Bingo!”

Rankin said she’s grateful for the guidance and support offered by MacIvor and the rest of the cast, during that process.

“They have been very warm and they’ve embraced me and they’ve been supportive and I’ve made so many friends and we laugh so much in rehearsal. I haven’t laughed this much in a very long time and I’m just having the time of my life,” she said.

“Bingo!” is a comedy that tells the story of group of friends who gather in Cape Breton to celebrate their 30-year high school reunion. Rankin portrays Bitsy, who is in her late 40s and goes into the reunion having never really moved on from that time in her life, held back by fear. But things change for Bitsy throughout the course of the play.

“She has an epiphany of sorts at this reunion and it’s a new jumping off point for her,” explained Rankin.

During a break in rehearsals this week, MacIvor said the play is really taking shape, and it’s been a learning experience for all involved, as the “Bingo” cast discover some of the not-so-obvious storylines of a high school reunion comedy

“The thing that surprises me about it is I’m realizing it’s also a play about friendship and what friendship means, and something I hadn’t really considered is it’s about how we sort of still act out our high school selves,” he said. “There’s a part of us that’s still kind of in high school and when we get together in our groups of friends we take on those same roles that we had then, which is something I hadn’t really thought about as being part of the point but that’s definitely something I’m seeing.”

For Rankin, the ideas explored in “Bingo!” are ones she relates to very easily.

“It’s a very funny play but it’s very moving at the same time and I think I really connected with the story, especially because I’m sort of at the same point in my life that the characters are,” she said. “They’re all at that point in their life where you kind of start looking back at what you’ve accomplished and assessing if you’ve done exactly what you would like to do, so I really connected with it.”

MacIvor said he’s thrilled with the cast they’ve assembled for “Bingo!” and is eager now to get the production in front of an audience and see if the “laughs land.”

“The next great stage in this is getting people in and seeing how the actors respond to the people in the room and how the audience responds to the play,” he said.

Tickets to “Bingo!” at the Savoy Theatre are $28.50 and are on sale now through the Savoy box office which can be reached by phone at 842-1577 or online at www.savoytheatre.com.

ljgrant@cbpost.com

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