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Sterling College Theatre production features freshmen
Sheila Birling (front right), played by Cate Gutteridge, warns her mother, played by Ava Brooks, about how the Inspector (center), played by Jake Pieplow, is drawing information out of each member of the family in this scene from “An Inspector Calls,” which will be staged by Sterling College Theatre this weekend.
Sheila Birling, played by Cate Gutteridge, confesses to the Inspector, played by Jake Pieplow, that she has information pertinent to his investigation while her fiance, played by John Williams (second from back) and brother played by Luke Harding (farthest to back) look on in this scene from “An Inspector Calls” which will be staged by Sterling College Theatre this weekend.

STERLING — Four of the seven students cast in Sterling College Theatre’s fall play, a British murder mystery entitled “An Inspector Calls,” are freshmen. The play, written by J.B. Priestly and directed by Professor Stephen English, will be staged by Sterling College Theatre at 7:30 p.m. this Friday and Saturday, Oct. 16 and 17 in the college’s Culbertson Auditorium.

Though in their first year of college, the freshmen cast in “An Inspector Calls” are not inexperienced in theater. All four of them, Cate Gutteridge of Wichita who plays Sheila Birling, Luke Harding of Sterling who plays her brother Eric, Josh Morris of Hutchinson who plays their father and Kaitlyn Lumbert of Wichita who plays the maid, have been in at least 10 shows. Some said they have been in 20 to 30. 

One notable aspect of this show is the variety of accents the students have learned. 

Gutteridge said the Inspector will have a Scottish accent and the mother character will have a traditional British accent. 

“The rest of us are doing a mix between traditional British and brummie or Burmingham accent,” Gutteridge said. “The reason that we’re doing a mix is because the Burmingham and the brummie accent is very hard to understand. It’s very thick, and of course we want the audience to be able to hear what we’re saying, so we’re kind of just taking certain words, like the u sounds and the double o’s and really making those the thick, and the rest is kind of like a mix between the traditional British and the Burmingham.” 

The cast members had varied feelings about their characters. 

“I love my character,” Harding said. “It’s not a very funny show, but my character is the funny one.” 

“I like Edna,” Lumbert said. “You don’t know a lot about her. Sasha (Hildebrand, assistant professor of theater) has helped me in developing her backstory and developing her motives for doing things.”

“He’s a jerk. He’s a hothead, and that’s kind of the point of his character. He’s almost the antagonist,” Morris said of his character. “It’s a challenging role, and I like it in that way. I don’t like him.”

The cast had positive opinions of the genre and themes of the show.

“It’s not your average murder mystery,” Harding said.

“The murder mysteries I’ve been in are usually comedies, and this is a little more of a serious take on it,” Gutteridge said. 

“I love the theme,” Morris said. “It’s generally about taking responsibility for each other, and generally just being a good person even when you’re not required to be.”

“It helps you see how much of an impact you have on everyone’s lives around you,” Lumbert said.  

At all performances of “An Inspector Calls” social distancing and masks for audience members will be required. Tickets are available at the door or online Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and students.