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Everybody dies; getting there is the exciting part

It’s not until the play has already started that we find out what role each cast member will be playing for that particular performance. It’s a lottery system. Done live for all to see. And that’s just the beginning of the intrigue with “Everybody,” the Department of Theatre’s final production of the season directed by Robert Scott Smith and running from April 5-14 in the Babcock Theatre (300 South University Street).

A modernized adaption of the 15th century play, “Everyman,” this story dives deep into some of humanity’s early explorations of morality and death.

“Even with around 500 years between the two shows, the core questions and themes are still completely relevant,” said the production’s dramaturg Lauren Carn. “As much as our society has evolved since the 15th century, it is somewhat comforting to know that we are still considering the same question as the audience members of the original ‘Everyman,’ which is: ‘How can I be a good person?’”

Though perhaps a bit macabre, the work is woven with humor and heart. At the top of the play, five actors who play Somebody are approached by Death who tells them to prepare for the inevitable. These Somebodies convince Death to allow time to find someone to bring along for the journey. At that point, the lottery begins and out of the Somebodies we find out who’s going to go on that journey as Everybody.

Everybody is “losing who they are but gaining the wisdom and acceptance of their fate,” Macey Shackelford described, who plays one of the five Somebodies, which represent: Everybody, Kinship, Friendship, Cousinship and Stuff.

“What I find interesting about the story is that we know we know how it ends at the top of the show; Everybody dies and meets God,” said Michael Tirrell, who also plays a Somebody. “It’s about HOW they get there and the journey we all take that leads us there.”

The arc of the play is somewhat of a reflection of the process of putting it on.

“This has been one of the most challenging, exhilarating, and entertaining productions I have ever worked on,” said Smith. “Part of the joy will be experiencing this with multiple audiences as we wait in anticipation for the lottery and then watch what happens. Anything is possible, or is it? Death is something we will all experience, we just don’t know when.”

This exciting and important production is not to be missed. An ASL interpreted performance and audience talkback will take place on Friday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m.

University of Utah students get free tickets with their UCard, thanks to the Arts Pass program. Find other ticketing and parking information here.

Content advisory

This production is recommended for ages twelve and older. Children under the age of four will not be admitted. If you have additional questions, please email us at Please note that more detailed advisories may contain information that reveals plot elements in advance, AKA “spoilers.”