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Review: Bacharach and Bingo!

Kevin Allman on Running With Scissors' cabaret salute to Burt Bacharach



Onstage at Mid-City Theatre, there was a Hollywood party at songwriter Burt Bacharach's house sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s — and they were playing bingo. Why bingo? Oh, you just had to go with it. And how well you managed to do that determined how much you enjoyed Bacharach and Bingo!, a light revue of some of Bacharach and Hal David's best-known songs interspersed with a few hands of audience participation bingo.

  That's about all there was to the show, the latest staging by New Orleans' long-time theater company of the ridiculous, Running With Scissors. Like all the company's shows, the slapdash element's the charm and the fun, but much of this show felt stuck together with three different kinds of tape: '60s "adult" music, a straight-ahead bingo game and an ongoing narration by emcee Jack Long (pictured), who projected mid-century swank but for some reason dropped in a lot of contemporary references, as if he wasn't sure the material was strong enough.

  The evening's stars were the Kentucky Sisters, a vocal duo (with some very un-Bacharach ukeleles; in this case, it worked) who stole the show with beautiful harmony versions of "One Less Bell to Answer" and "Close to You." Lisa Picone did well on "Anyone Who Had a Heart" and "The Look of Love." Dorian Rush asked the questions "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" and "I'll Never Fall in Love Again", while Sean Patterson held up the masculine Bacharach end with "This Guy's in Love With You" and "What's New, Pussycat?".

  All performed credibly, but none were helped out by taped synthesizer accompaniment that conjured an Encino karaoke room rather than a Hollywood Hills penthouse. (Bacharach used flugelhorns the way Britney Spears uses Auto-Tune; you can't evoke Herb Alpert without a strong horn section.) And while the members of Running With Scissors have made an entertaining art form of forgetting their lines (or, in this case, the lyrics) and ad-libbing their way out of trouble, watching that would have been far more fun than the performers who stopped in the middle of songs to point out their own mistakes.

  But then, after every few songs, Bacharach's theme from Casino Royale would play, the house lights would rise and the audience would play a round of bingo. (Judging from the game's appearance in other long-running local productions, including The New Orleans Bingo Show! and Becky Allen's Queen of Bingo, New Orleans audiences love them some bingo.) After an hour, the group sang "What the World Needs Now" and left the stage. Bacharach and Bingo! never hit the rarefied heights of a boozy 1960s Hollywood party, but some of the music was swell; it was, after all, Burt Bacharach.

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