SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Feb. 14, 2023 (Gephardt Daily) — The Plan-B Theater Company continues its season with the world premiere of Darryl Stamp’s “Go Home Come Back.”
The show runs February 23-March 5 at the Studio Theater at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. Will (Lonzo Liggins) is a sales manager. James (Calbert Beck) is in charge of disaster management. They meet as they walk away from their mortal coil. The show is described as a “heartwarming ‘what if’ of missed opportunities, first impressions and second chances”.
The show also features Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin, Kris Wing Peterson, Melissa Salguero and the voice of Flo Bravo.
Playwright Stamp is a member of Plan-B’s Theater Artists Color Writing Workshop. He previously premiered his own comedy ‘Roar’ as part of ‘…Of Color’ with the company. His play ‘Dumbed Down’ also premiered at the 2020 Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival.
We spoke with Stamp before the show opened, along with Beck and Salguero.
Before entering the theater world, Stamp worked for an engineering firm examining sewage systems in Iowa, then moved to Wichita, Kansas and was an assistant football coach. He also worked in prisons, then went back to school and graduated in human resource management.
At the time, he was also doing stand-up comedy and saw an ad for Showtime’s Funniest Person in America contest. She was in the Funniest Person category in Kansas and tied for last place of the night.
“And I go up and kill it,” he said. “And I win the [Kansas part of the] competition. And that was the year, because I’m old, that was the year that Ellen DeGeneres won it all. And so I was told, you know, we’ll let you know and we’ll have maybe a five-minute timeslot on the television, and we’ll decide the winner, and I’ve never gotten that far. But OK, that’s my claim to fame. So I still do stand-up comedy in Wichita, which had a comedy club, and whenever I was out of town on business or on vacation, I’d try to come in and try my stuff.
At the same time, Stamp was cast in “Driving Miss Daisy” at the Wichita Center for the Arts, and began taking acting lessons, later transitioning into professional theater. He also had six part-time jobs to make ends meet.
During that time, he met his wife, who was at the University of Kansas finishing her master’s and working on a PhD. She wanted to move back to Utah to be closer to her parents, so the couple moved to Beehive State in 2007. Stamp performed in the Page-to-Stage event at the Wasatch Theater Company in 2011, and directed a play, then did a couple more shows for that company. Lui went on to be cast in “Jump” at Plan-B Theater in 2018.
Stamp got the idea for “Go Home Come Back” during the COVID-19 pandemic, when he began to evaluate what he had been doing in his life up to that point, what else he wanted to do and also what people might say of him if he is dead.
“I decided to write a comedy about a couple of kids who find out they’re dead,” he said. “And so I improved that opening scene, because it wasn’t about two kids dying. And I thought, what if he died? And there’s this strange boy at his house, who is this boy? Where is he from, is he from some heavenly place or what? Like, why is he there? And I thought, let’s have some fun. Maybe he died too. And so it’s like, well, now what do I do with this? There are two people. They still don’t know they’re dead.
The men then meet an entity who tells them of a “Go Home Come Back” scheme, meaning people can go home for an hour.
“And if you need to wrap up any loose ends, that have come from my thinking like I’m dead, have I done everything I wanted to do?” Stamp said. “I’ve apologized to someone, to everyone I needed to talk to. I’ve continued to live the life I wanted to live, and most people don’t stand a chance. You know, we get a phone call, I’m sorry to tell you, whatever.
“You know, we rarely get to sit there with our loved ones like I was able to with my mother, but not with my brother, my father. And watch her take her last breath and watch the straight line go through the car. And we don’t always have this opportunity. And I thought, well, if we don’t get that, what if we could just settle, have a moment with anyone; I don’t know if he will be a best friend, girlfriend, husband, wife. And so these guys can’t say anything about it. Which is really hard for them to do. They have a chance to go home.
She added, “You know, it’s from a man’s point of view, and I’m trying to make sure that I have stories that not only feature women, but feature women and speak from their point of view, even if the story is told from these POVs of two dudes and so I decided that St. Peter must be a woman, and she should be Latina.
Beck, who plays James, spoke about what fascinated him about the show and his character.
“Many things attracted me to making this show, from the content, which we came up with last year, to the writer, castmates and production company,” Beck said. “I was lucky to find that this character resonates deeply with me, due to my history and experiences. The big picture, or theme, of the show is a classic conundrum… who deserves a second chance, and would everyone choose to take advantage of that opportunity? Personally, I have lived by the ‘No Regrets’ motto for quite some time. With that motto as a backdrop, James’s character is an opportunity to ‘interpret’ the other side of that saying…it was a reminder of what can happen if you don’t live for today.
Beck was a former football player and attended the University of Utah on a football scholarship before devastating migraine headaches sidelined the up-and-coming athlete.
Salguero added, of her character: “I play both Viola and Monica in this production. I was drawn to both because of the relationship each of them individually has with their fathers. Both react to the connection/absence of each father figure in similar but markedly different ways. Each character is different, but their resolution hope is similar. I was drawn to this right away.
I also asked Salguero what she likes about a world premiere where she’s originating a role.
“The process,” he said. “We all discover new things and evolve with our characters. We develop as production does. While it can feel chaotic at times, it’s so rewarding to know how collaborative the process is. We evolve and adapt in real time together with the piece.
Beck added, “I have to say that being a world premiere is as special to me as an aged classic,” he said. “I love the opportunity to be on stage. Still, there’s something to be said about the lack of pressure to be corrected, as this is the first time this character has ever caught a breather. Like I said, getting to know the playwright was a joy, as we get the opportunity to dig deeper into what they were thinking or feeling about the character. I can’t even imagine the pressure on our director, as he has the final say on what will be “the real character” and his characteristics. Then again…it’s totally new, so the audience never knows if you screwed something up, missed a joke, etc.
Beck will also star in the Pygmalion Theater Company’s “Near Mint,” by Lane Richins, April 28-May 13 at the Rose Wagner. Salguero will be working on concluding a medical memoir titled “Stiction,” which he hopes will be produced by 2024.
Stamp also opened up about what else is on her bucket list.
“I’d love to direct again,” he said. “And I have, you know, half a dozen experiences under my belt.” He added: “I’m working on a piece about a couple of actors in their thirties, the wife is a writer, trying to get her way in the screenwriting, the writing world and her husband and he’s not very talented yet he wants to emulate his wife and he they try all kinds of things… i don’t have a name for that. I’m not sure where he’s going. But so far, that’s the premise because I want to explore the difficulty of getting into the arts, whatever the art form is and especially for a woman as a writer.
She added of “Go Home Come Back”, “I hope people can relate. Not so much, there’s heaven or hell, but we really should make the most of the time we have. We just don’t know when it’s going to end.
For more information and tickets click here.