Theater Review: “Betsy Carmichael’s BINGO Palace” at Shea’s Smith Theatre

March 24, 2018

Written By

Mary Friona Celani

Attending Betsy Carmichael’s Bingo Palace was one of the BEST Friday nights I have ever spent!  Over the years, I have heard a lot of wonderful things about this O’Connell & Company show and now I know why there has been so much chatter.

Betsy Carmichael’s Bingo Palace is an original interactive comedy conceived and written by Joey Bucheker and Mary Kate O’Connell.  Bucheker plays the role of Betsy Carmichael, an extravagant and glitzy character who loves and proclaims the game of Bingo.  From her humble beginnings, as the daughter of a Bingo caller in Buffalo, New York, Betsy has become an international Bingo icon bringing her own unique style to the game.  Bucheker is outstanding in this role and interacts with the audience in a playful and witty manner.  I found his portrayal of Betsy Carmichael captivating because you never knew what was going to be his next move.

Betsy was joined by the dynamic duo Margaret Mary (Adam M. Wall) and Mary Margaret (Corey Bieber) and assisted by Betsy’s brother-in-law Chip (Dr. Jerry Mosey). Although we rarely hear much from Wall during the performance, his expressions and actions are priceless and entertaining.  Mosey is perfect for the role of Betsy’s Bingo caller and has a few good one-liners.  I can’t say enough about Bieber’s portrayal of Mary Margaret. I found that the character voice he used throughout the show was on point and he did a fantastic job of playing with the audience and staying in character—all traits of a wonderful interactive actor.

Throughout the night of Betsy’s Bingo shenanigans, we hear plenty about her childhood, her late husband and her devotion for Bingo.  She teaches the audience Bingo etiquette where everyone is encouraged to participate.  For instance, if the caller announces “I-16” you sing, with appropriate gestures, “I am 16 going on 17, what’s a girl to do?” At which point “Betsy” shouts “Play Bingo” and you respond “We are!  In between Bingo games the audience is entertained by perfectly timed jokes, fun songs and crazy antics which are completely sold by Bucheker.  Audience members are even called up to the stage to assist with the evening’s Bingo festivities and I was one of those lucky patrons.

Shea’s Smith Theatre is a small quaint venue in downtown Buffalo and they encourage the audience to have a drink, relax and enjoy the show which makes for a great experience, especially this show!

Betsy Carmichael’s Bingo Palace is an engaging and delightful night of entertainment and many times down right hysterical. Yes, there were some technical sound issues but Bucheker and Mosey we perfectly professional and compensated accordingly without it affecting the audience too much. I’m stunned that this run is so short, not allowing Buffalo audiences much opportunity to fall in love with Betsy like I did.  Check out Betsy’s website to perhaps catch future shows by visiting–  and if you are looking to make your 2018 Christmas Holiday spectacular, be sure to catch the Betsy Carmichael’s Christmas Special at Shea’s Smith Theatre.

Betsy Carmichael’s BINGO Palace plays at the Shea’s Smith Theatre through March 25th .

Tickets are available at : CLICK HERE to See BETSY CARMICHAEL

or by calling 1-800-745-3000.

Tickets are $30.00











Totally Buffalo had the opportunity to meet with Betsy Carmichael for a behind the scenes interview with the Diva herself!   Take a look!

TB: Where are you from?

BC: Dear I’m a Buffalo gal born and raised.


TB: Tell us what you like most about your hometown?

BC: The very best of Buffalo is its diversity. It is a Mecca of cultural not to mention the abundance of arts, architecture and food.  I love me some chicken wings. And most importantly there are at least 5 BINGO games going any day of the week!

TB: Allow our readers to get to the real Betsy—What are your hobbies, foods you like, your biggest pet peeves and things you like to do when you are not at the Bingo Palace?

BC: BINGO! (but that’s the easy answer) I’ve devoted my life to bringing people to BINGO and making it a memorable and enjoyable experience. I also enjoy performing. In my younger years I performed in the USO with Mr. Bob Hope and in the 70’s did many TV variety shows and guest appearances. That’s why combining all these elements at the BINGO Palace was a perfect fit.  (it was modeled after my Vegas residency at the Sahara.)  Nowadays I perform occasionally at local community theatres. My family also is a very important and consuming part of my life.

 Favorite food.  Everything. I enjoy a good meal with good people.

Pet peeves:  

  1. BINGO is not just a game for old grannies with a social security check to burn. It’s for everyone, men, women, children of all ages and backgrounds.  BINGO is meant to bring people together into a communal environment much like church.
  2. People who take life to seriously. Our time here is limited.  Have fun, laugh and of course play BINGO!

TB: Tell us about this passion you have with Bingo and how you got started??

BC: I was exposed to BINGO at a very young age dear.  My father was a wonderful man and a great provider and on the weekends he would call BINGO at or local parish on the weekends. I adored my father. So we could spend more time with daddy my mother would bring my sisters and I to watch him call BINGO.  The environment was electrifying.  It was like going to the theatre with fascinating character and excitement and anticipation. Once I finally played BINGO and WON, I had a euphoric feeling that I wanted over and over and I craved this communal experience. It was then and there that I devoted my life to spreading the Word of BINGO!

TB:  What should we expect when we come to see you at Betsy Carmichael’s Bingo Palace?

BC: Expect to have fun. This isn’t Hamilton. You won’t leave feeling educated or enlightened but you may leave a winner. Yes my audience will actually play BINGO.  The BINGO Palace is a place to let your hair down, laugh and escape. Don’t we need a little more laughter in our lives dear?

TB:  As for relationships, can you give us a peek into your love life and friendships that are most dear?

BC: I am a widow. My dear late husband George passed some time ago.  He was the best of the best. I could never replace my George but I’m not dead. I won’t pass up a night out with a good looking man on my arm! 

Family is everything to me. My identical twin nieces Mary Margaret and Margaret Mary work at the BINGO Palace as my Betsy’s Beauties and occasionally my ex-bother in law, Chet is the ball puller.

TB:  Tell us about your unique fashion style and one of your fashion mentors??

BC: Dear, I have had so many designers create for me over the years. Bob Mackie is one of my favs and I one of his.  However after George and I took our magical honeymoon to Hawaii I grew a love for the Muumuu.  Daring bright colors and patterns and it’s nice to be free range with flowy fabrics. I LOVE BLING. A woman of my age can never go wrong with sparkles.  Also my glasses have become a bit of a trade-mark.  I had to wear glasses by necessity and people always say that the eyes are the windows to the soul.  I just decided to have Christmas lights on my windows all year long.

TB:  Where and when will we see you next??

BC: I will be performing Betsy Carmichael’s BINGO Palace at Shea’s Smith Theatre for a limited 4 show engagement March 23-25 (get your tickets right now, Sunday is SOLD-OUT).

Later this year I will be returning to Indianapolis, IN and heading to Hammonton, NJ so far and next December I will be returning to Shea’s with my holiday show, The Betsy Carmichael Christmas Special.  Keep an eye on



About Me

Welcome to Totally Buffalo! My name is Mary Friona-Celani and I am the creator of this site! After spending 20 years in the Buffalo media, I moved on to focus on my beautiful family. Now, the time has come for a new project. I was ready for something new. Something mine.
I am born and raised in WNY and my pride runs deep. My husband, Scott and I are very happy to be raising our four daughters here.






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