When Philip Muehe came back to Rochester and decided to direct a play, he remembered a show called “Come Back.”
“When I was an assistant director in Milwaukee, I went to see it at a small black-box theater and it was great,” Muehe says.
So when he submitted a proposal to direct a play this summer at Rochester Repertory Theatre, “Come Back” seemed like the perfect choice.
“It lends itself well to the artistic mission of the Rep,” Muehe says of the play. “I like their commitment to storytelling that is character-driven and intimate.” Plus, he says, “It’s a good show for summer. It’s only an hour and 45 minutes, so it’s not super long. But it packs a punch.”
The play, written by Neil Haven, is about Sky’s attempts to find the perfect resting place for the remains of his best friend, Erin, who has died. But Erin’s estranged mother has other plans. As Sky hits the road, his journey takes unexpected turns and detours.
“It’s a quirky comedy,” Muehe says. “It has some sentimental moments.”
This is Muehe’s directing debut at the Rep, although he did direct a show last spring at the Rochester Art Center. He previously was an assistant director at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre.
Muehe has cast Grant Dubbels as Sky, Emily Whitcomb as Erin, with Christine Boos as Erin’s mother, and Nick Rudlong and Anastasiya Nartovich playing multiple characters. It’s a mix of newcomers and Rep veterans. Muehe says he especially reached out for young actors.
As for audiences, he says, “I hope they walk away having laughed. It approaches a lot of serious subject matter in a non-threatening way. I know they’ll be laughing along the way. To me, that’s better than having a super-preachy show.”