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‘Broadway Bingo’ // Outside The Jukebox

If you want an enjoyable night out with loved ones, where you alternate between wheezing with laughter or basking in wonder, Outside the Jukebox’s new production is a guaranteed win. Mixing the performance of a Broadway musical with the high-stakes thrill of a bingo competition, ‘Broadway Bingo’ brings you the musical numbers you know and love in a fresh and fun format. Presented at the Brisbane Powerhouse’s intimate Underground Theatre, the amazingly talented cast leave their set list in the hands of fate, with songs being chosen at random from the bingo cage.

Guests were enthusiastically welcomed into the theatre and instructed to use the available QR code to receive their bingo card and program. Those who choose to eschew technology or worry about technical issues, fear not – the cast helpfully provided pens and paper bingo cards. The 80 minute performance was split into different sections, such as “group song” or “fixed solo song”, which kept the show feeling fresh yet structured. Audiences are invited to carefully watch and listen to each performance, as the bingo tiles don’t require you to simply know what is being sung but rather identify various aspects of the performance. For instance, your bingo card could require you to notice an audience member arriving late, the death of a character within the song, or even make a judgement on whether or not a vocal slide was particularly obnoxious. If concentrating on a bingo card during a show isn’t your thing, a few audience members chose to simply appreciate the performance and appeared to leave with the same level of enjoyment. 

Outside the Jukebox have a history of creating engaging performances that rely on remixing songs and production styles with improvised stage banter. Their previous productions, ‘Merry Mixology’ and ‘Mixtape: Rewind To The 80s’, received glowing reviews that appreciated the underlying playfulness that is the backbone behind Outside the Jukebox. ‘Broadway Bingo’ was no different, with the explanation of the rules punctuated with light jokes that demonstrated the cast’s easy camaraderie. It was also clear that Outside the Jukebox’s aim was for the audience to relish the fun of the experience, as the ability to cross off some of the stranger bingo squares were engineered into the performance and the prizes were laughably token. An issue did arise when several people achieved bingo at the same time, which caused some hesitancy and confusion amongst the cast before they decided to continue on with the more vocal winners they had already identified. 

Relying on backing tracks controlled from an on-stage laptop, which did occasionally present some technical hiccups, the vocal talent of the cast was allowed to shine. The set list is an eclectic mix, ranging from classics such as  “Poor Wandering One” from ‘Pirates of Penzance’ to more modern numbers like “She used to be Mine” from ‘Waitress’. A moment of audience participation at the end of the show was a particular highlight, as the volunteer fiendishly utilised her ability to switch vocalists to hilarious results. 

Humour was definitely the aim of the game, with cast members having special cards they could play to mix up another member’s performance. A particular favourite was the “Director” card, which turned what could have been an inspiring performance into a rollercoaster of emotions, as the singer became a sullen teenager after finding out halfway through the song that some joyous news was indeed false. Hannah Grondin’s facial expressions and body language, juxtaposed with their belting vocals, was a recipe for side-splitting enjoyment. 

The Brisbane Powerhouse’s Underground Theatre was utilised well, with the bingo cage, tech desk, and costume hanger set at the back of the stage to allow maximum space for the performers to shine. It was also where the non-performing cast sat, which could be distracting at times. The performers were able to work the crowd appropriately, moving around the stage or turning to perform towards each side of the U-shaped audience seating. 

The cast, which included the afore-mentioned Hannah Grondin along with Hayden Rodgers, Marcia Penman, and Oliver Samson, had an easy chemistry which shone through their electric performances and friendly teasing. Each performer was a stand-out, demonstrating heavenly vocals and an unbelievable ability to switch things up at the drop of a hat. Hayden Rodgers and Hannah Grondin were particularly notable for their ability to convey emotion and imbue humour into their performances, while Oliver Samson grounded the show with his ability to cover any choreography mistakes and act as the foil to the comedic antics of the others. Marcia Penman was breathtaking, her vocal range and staying power a true delight that sent shivers through the audience during every song she sang. 

Outside the Jukebox’s most recent production ‘Broadway Bingo’ is a delight that can’t be missed. With every performance guaranteed to be different, due to the fickle nature of whichever bingo ball is chosen, audiences are invited to return and witness a new show each time. No matter which song is chosen, or if you get the satisfaction of shouting “Bingo!”, ‘Broadway Bingo’ guarantees you will leave the theatre with a smile on your face and a tune in your heart. 

‘Broadway Bingo’ performs until Sunday, 21 April 2024 at the Brisbane Powerhouse. For more information visit their website.

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