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Connecting Our Communities

Virgil Wins the Lottery … but, then again, maybe not

Theatre Wellesley production provides the laughs, and a few lessons about what’s really important in life

It’s easy to day dream about striking it rich quick by winning the lottery, and all the possibilities that come along with that. Theatre Wellesley’s latest fall production will explore all the emotions and consequences that ensue when that dream becomes a reality for a small town “hillbilly” couple.

Virgil Sludge (Grant Chapman) resides in the fictional Lickskillit, a rural community in the middle of nowhere. He always dreams of winning the lottery while his wife Margaret (Bree McCoomb) thinks that doing so is a waste of time.

“Bree McCoomb is a newcomer to Theatre Wellesley,” said producer Rhonda Caldwell. “She brings lots of energy to the character. She’s a young mom, she’s relatively new in her marriage, and family has been really important for her.

“Virgil is a pretty simple character who really loves his family, he really loves his friends, but he’s a guy. His hot wheels are important to him; he works at the hardware store, he doesn’t necessarily have a whole lot of ambition. There’s a whole lot of repairs on the house that need to get done on the house and there’s always an excuse of how not to do it.”

One fateful Friday night, when the families are listening to Lickskillit’s own D.J. Wolf (Sue Barg) on the radio, the unimaginable happens … Virgil is declared the lucky lottery winner. He and Margaret vow to remain the same simple, down-to-earth people they have always been, not allowing the money to change them at the core. But things don’t quite go according to plan.

They find themselves getting caught up with all the newfound possibilities, spending money all over town (while writing out I.O.Us) before they even receive the cheque, connecting with other rich folk who have money through the posh social club, hiring a maid, and living in high cotton.

Eventually, they find out that they may not have won the exact amount they anticipated at the beginning and their priorities begin to shift.

“They realize that this isn’t working for them – their family is the one that’s most important to them,” explained director Alan Strong. “At the end of the play they realize they have really hurt the ones they love.”

Joining them on this adventure is their best friends Bertha Mae (Jamie Russell), Ellard (Nathan Martin), Virgil’s parents Mama Sludge (Mary Beth Jantzi), Papa Sludge (Kevin Wakem) and Margaret’s parents Mama Hooper (Karen Reger) and Papa Hooper Al Cook). Between Virgil and Ellard, “they might share one IQ point,” and add to much of the comedic effect of the performance.

“It’s a very family-friendly show. I think this will be a show that everybody can enjoy,” said Strong. “There are lots of laughs; there are lots of hi-jinks.”

“If people want to come out, have a good time, a good laugh, just to have a light-hearted evening or afternoon, it could certainly offer you that.”

Rounding out the cast is Ted Schier, Renee Murray, Judy Johnson, Dave McNorgan, and newcomer Ashley Wakem. Caldwell said that many of the actors on stage will be well known to the community, in addition to the two newcomers.

“We’ve provided a quality fall show since 1997,” said Caldwell. “For many people, they’ll recognize the familiar faces in slightly different roles on the stage and I think people like to see some of those same people on the stage.”

Virgil Wins the Lottery, by Eddie McPherson, runs November 21 and 22 at 8 p.m. and November 23 and 24 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at Pym’s Village Market. Alternatively, call 519-897-1737 or visit Theatre Wellesley’s website for more information.

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