Theatre Review: ‘Betsy Carmichael’s Bingo Palace’ by O’Connell & Company at Shea’s Smith Theatre

Betsy Carmichael (right) and her friends at “Betsy Carmichael’s Bingo Palace” at Shea’s Smith Theatre.

I signed up to review “Betsy Carmichael’s Bingo Palace” on a whim, having never heard of the show and having no familiarity with Betsy’s long history in Buffalo. I’m a Buffalo transplant originally from the Rochester area, so I didn’t realize that Betsy’s act is a pillar of the Buffalo theatre scene. I don’t know what I expected really; some sort of dinner theatre maybe? I walked into Shea’s Smith Theatre on Friday night with no expectations, and left with a sore face and stomach cramps from laughing so much.

. . .a gut-busting hysterical night. . .

“Betsy Carmichael’s Bingo Palace” is an original interactive comedy by Joey Bucheker and Mary Kate O’Connell. Bucheker leads the show as Betsy Carmichael, an over-the-top lover of all things Bingo, glitter, and dirty humor. Flanked by her “twin” nieces Mary Margaret (Corey Bieber) and Margaret Mary (Adam Wall) and aided by her bingo-shouting brother-in-law (Dr. Jerry Mosey), Betsy hosts an interactive night of bingo that is interwoven with skits, stories, songs, goofy prizes and raunchy jokes. Throughout the night the audience joins Betsy in singing, dancing, and even in a mock wedding ceremony. It is truly unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.

The Betsy Carmichael experience is sort of like having your cheeks pinched by your loud aunt for two hours straight, but in a good way. It’s like Madea meets Roseanne. It’s like being trapped inside of a disco ball, but one that you don’t want to get out of. Having a drink (or three) is not only allowed, but encouraged at the bingo palace.

“Betsy Carmichael’s Bingo Palace” is a gut-busting hysterical night at the theatre, and will appeal to folks of all stripes from any walks of life (though probably not for the young ones). With reoccurring mic/sound issues being the only drawback of this opening night performance (which will surely be ironed out), it is sure to be a sell-out of its remaining shows. You won’t regret spending your evening with Betsy.

Running Time 2 Hours 15 minutes with one 15-minute intermission.

Advisory: Some Adult Language and Humor

“Betsy Carmichael’s Bingo Palace” is presented by O’Connell & Company and is being performed at Shea’s Smith Theatre until March 25th, 2018. For more information, click here.