Saint Sebastian Players' 34th Season to Open with LOTTO FEVER

To open its 2014-15 season, the Saint Sebastian Players (SSP) present a world premiere that stays close to home, in terms of its author and its setting.

Lotto Fever in the Sucker State, SSP's second world premiere by company member Leigh Johnson (after Lefties in 2013), takes place circa 1988 at Rayners Victory Café in central Illinois, where life has taken a difficult turn due to the farm foreclosure crisis. The diner's new, young "citified" owner, Steven Rayner, is desperately trying to build his customer base, with comically mixed results. His steadiest customers, the Smithfield family, have resorted to ritually playing the Illinois State Lottery to mask the fact that they are losing the family farm. Calvin Smithfield's efforts to save the farm have attracted two agents, who use the diner as a base of operations to attempt to locate the marijuana they suspect is being grown in the area. Add to this mix a confused professor of English literature, who finds the café's customers the perfect subjects for his passion for American colloquialism, and Noreen, the waitress who acts as a one-woman Greek chorus to the madness swirling around her, and the result is a wild hayride that produces laughter and tears, sometimes at the same time.

At every performance, SSP will collect small-change donations to contribute to the Family Farm Disaster Fund, a project of Farm Aid. Also, during the second weekend of performances (Nov. 7-9), SSP will offer complimentary admission to U.S. veterans as gratitude for their service, in anticipation of Veterans Day November 11. And patrons have a second chance on their losing scratch-off Lottery tickets by entering for a chance to win a season subscription to the remaining two productions of SSP's 34th season. More information is available at

Directing Lotto Fever in the Sucker State is Jonathan "Rocky" Hagloch, celebrating his 30th year with SSP and whose past SSP directing credits include the comedies You Can't Take It With You, Social Security, How the Other Half Loves, Room Service and Cash on Delivery. The cast includes SSP company members Ed McGuire, Nancy Pollock and Ned Ricks, as well as Angela Bullard, Paul Chakrin, Hannah Cooney, Michael Holding, Raj Malhotra, Neil O'Callaghan, Pam Tierney and Justin Wirsbinski. The production team includes SSP members Paula Kenar as costume designer, Josh Hurley as properties manager, Don Johnson as sound engineer, John Oster as program book editor/photographer, Jim Masini as producer and Leigh Johnson and Jill Chukerman Test as associate producers. The team also includes Ryan Emens as set designer, Chazz Malott as lighting designer and Al Cerkan as production stage manager.

SSP's 34th season continues with Emperor of the Moon by Aphra Behn February 20-March 15, 2015 and The Sisters Rosensweig by Wendy Wasserstein April 24-May 17, 2015.

SSP began producing theatre in 1982 at its original home, the St. Sebastian parish, located at the corner of Halsted Street and Wellington Avenue on Chicago's North Side. When the parish closed in 1990, SSP relocated to its current home, St. Bonaventure, at 1625 W. Diversey. During its history, the company has produced original and previously produced dramas, comedies and musicals; original audience-participation mysteries for special events; and the Monologue Matchup Competition, as well as provided support for smaller Sebastian Studio Projects produced by company members. For a complete production history, visit

Lotto Fever in the Sucker State opens Thursday, October 30 (previews October 28 and 29) at 7:30 p.m., with additional performances the first weekend Saturday, November 1 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, November 2 at 2 p.m. There is no performance Friday, October 31. The schedule for the remaining three weekends is Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. through November 23. Performances take place at St. Bonaventure, 1625 W. Diversey, at Marshfield just west of Ashland, in Chicago. Free parking is available in two lots. Subscription packages for the three-play season are $40, $25 for seniors. Full-priced single tickets are $20, $15 for students with valid IDs and $10 for seniors. Preview performances are $10, $5 for seniors. Group rates also are available.

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