When the Bowie Playhouse opens the classic comedy The Man Who Came to Dinner on March 10 at its recently renovated theater, the director and cast will be paying homage to a longtime backer and participant, Charles W. Maloney.
"This show is a tribute to Charles W. Maloney," director Jane B. Wingard said at a rehearsal Tuesday evening. "This man was my mentor, and I learned my trade from him."
Wingard said the idea of a tribute came to her when she learned that Maloney might relocate when his son graduates from high school next year. "He is a long-time 2nd Star supporter and directed nine pieces here and has helped so many of us," Wingard said. "Now we've asked him to play the complicated lead role of Sheridan Whiteside. He'll be joined by a large cast anxious to pay tribute to him."
Maloney is pleased.
"I'm having so much fun with this show, which is one of the major American comedies, easily ranking among the top 10," he said. "The characters are all based on actual people, many of whom were members of New York's famous Algonquin Club."
Maloney said the idea for the play grew out of playwright Moss Hart's experience at having drama critic Alexander Woolcott "as a demanding weekend houseguest." The play was a collaboration of Hart and George S. Kaufman.
"For me, one of the biggest things is that the majority here who are part of this have great theatrical talent. I've worked with most of them. They have chosen to play much smaller roles here than they normally play just to be part of this. I hope I can live up to their tribute."
First performed in 1939, The Man Who Came to Dinner tells the story of an extremely demanding radio personality, Sheridan Whiteside, who was invited by socially elite Ernest and Daisy Stanley to a dinner party at their home. The Stanleys' social coup quickly turns into a nightmare when their dinner guest falls on their doorstep, becoming a long-term, demanding houseguest. Whiteside takes over his hosts' home with his long-suffering secretary, Maggie Cutler (Rosalie Daelemans), and his nurse, Miss Preen (Susan Weber).
During the course of the play, we meet the Stanley children and assorted visitors to their home.
Local newspaper editor Bert Jefferson, who may take away secretary Maggie; a Noel Coward-like character named Beverly Carlton; the social-climbing Lorraine Sheldon; Banjo, described a combinationof Groucho, Harpo, and Chico Marx; and an Einstein-like Professor Metz are among the characters.
In 2nd Star's production, Nancy Dall plays Daisy Stanley and Ed Kuhl is Ernest Stanley. Other Stanley family members are played by Rose Talbot as June, Shannon Weller as Richard and Heidi Toll as Aunt Harriet.
Rounding out the cast are Todd Cunningham as Dr. Bradley, Patti Restivo as Sarah, the family cook, and Jerry Khatcherussian as the family butler. Locals include newspaper editor Jefferson played by Dean Davis, Randy (who wants to marry June) played by Todd Wingard, the deliveryman played by Richard Blomquist and neighborhood fans played by Joanne Wilson and Joan Ashwell.
Sheridan is visited by insect expert Professor Metz (Martin Hayes), world traveler Beverly Carlton (Sid Curl), Hollywood jokester Banjo (Leo Knight), and Broadway actress Lorraine Sheldon (Heather Tuckfield).
The show runs on weekends March 10 through April 1. Tickets are priced at $17 for adults and $14 for seniors (age 55 and older) and full-time students. Reservations may be made by calling 301-858-7245 or 410-757-5700.