After theater renovations forced the cancellation of two recent shows, Bowie Community Theatre belatedly opens its season tonight with J.B. Priestly's An Inspector Calls.
In its 37th season, the 29th in its theater nestled in the woods of Whitemarsh Park, the award-winning Bowie Community Theatre had to eliminate both fall and winter productions this season because of renovations to Bowie Playhouse.
Director Richard Atha-Nicholls expressed his fascination with the script of An Inspector Calls at a rehearsal last week.
"Inspector is a great show that isn't done very often," he said. He said Priestly wrote the play in 1947, setting it in 1912 when there were sharply divided classes in Britain. Priestly created a central character who has a social conscience.
"It is a play to make you think," Atha-Nicholls said.
An Inspector Calls is set in an English industrial city, where a young woman is believed to have committed suicide and a respectable British family is subjected to a routine inquiry in connection with her death. As the inspector questions members of the seemingly close-knit family, each one is implicated as a factor in her death.
Individuals become less family-oriented and more self-serving as the questioning continues, and the inspector probes more deeply.
An Inspector Calls is usually described as just as relevant to contemporary audiences as when it was when first performed in the 1940s by a cast that included Alec Guinness and Ralph Richardson.
Sharing what he plans to tell Bowie audiences, Atha-Nicholls said, "Tonight you came to see a mystery, and tonight you'll leave with a mystery."
Bowie Community Theatre's production features versatile veteran actor Richard McGraw as the purposeful Inspector Goole.
A familiar favorite to Bowie audiences, Michael Dunlop, will play Arthur Birling, a successful businessman with a working-class background. Equally familiar to Bowie audiences is Mary Fawcett Watko, who will play Mrs. Birling, a cold woman and her husband's social superior.
Linda Swann will play the Birlings' naive daughter, Sheila, who is in love with well-bred man-about-town Gerald Croft. Michael Rogers will play Sheila's older brother, Eric, who enjoys a comfortable life in the family home. James McDaniel plays Croft, who is engaged to Sheila. Stacey Hook makes her Bowie debut as Edna the maid, one of the few characters with a conscience.
Bowie's Inspector may be late arriving, but he promises to be the ideal character to get the season off to an intriguing start.
Bowie Playhouse is located in Whitemarsh Park off Route 3, just over the Anne Arundel County line. Shows are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday through April 30. To reserve seats, call 301-805-0219.