Wes Drummond Brings ‘Young Frankenstein’ to Life at NorShor Theatre Sept 15-Oct 1
Wes Drummond is truly a man of the theater, with a wealth of experience in acting, directing, teaching, choreographing, and lecturing; he brings all that expertise to his current “role” as Executive Director at the Duluth Playhouse. In May 2021, amid a worldwide pandemic shutting theatres, Drummond left New York City to come to Duluth.
Drummond earned a BFA in Performing Arts from Western Kentucky University and an MFA in Directing from Pennsylvania State University.
He has directed and choreographed for several professional theaters, including McLeod Summer Playhouse; Manhattan Repertory Theatre; and West Village Musical Theater Festival; as well as for University theaters, including Penn State, Southern Illinois, DePaul, and Western Kentucky.
Drummond has assisted Tony Award winner Matthew Warchus and Tony Award nominees Michael Greif and Susan H. Schulman.
Inspiring Theatrical Experiences
He recalls that his love of theater began in high school when he performed in a production of “Once Upon a Mattress.”
“The school play needed more guys, and my close friend convinced me to be a part of it,” he said. “I was terrified, but I did it because whoever was in the school play that year, was invited to go on a trip to New York City. I had the best time of my life doing the show and made a ton of friends. I knew right away that theatre people were my people.”
“My favorite role I have played is Claude Hooper Bukowski in the musical ‘Hair’ at McLeod Playhouse. It had a lot to do with the tribe members in the show. I fell in love with a group of people all at the same time. A lot of the actors from that production are still my closest friends today.”
He said his second favorite role would be playing Homer Collins in the Adam Guettel musical ‘Floyd Collins’ at Kentucky Repertory Theatre. “That show is such a brilliant take on bluegrass music,” he explained.
“The most incredible part of that experience was that Kentucky Rep is located in Cave City, KY, just a few miles from the Great Sand Cave where the story took place. We actually had some of the Collins family attend a performance,” Drummond noted.
He added, “I also really enjoyed playing Benjamin Pontipee in the national tour of ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.’ That show pushed me more as a dancer than any show ever has. I grew a lot and built a lot of stamina out on the road and was able to visit thirty states in six months. It was an exhausting and thrilling adventure.”
Wes Drummond Brings ‘Young Frankenstein’ to Life
A Monstrous Musical
For the Duluth Playhouse, Drummond has directed and choreographed “Little Women,” choreographed “The SpongeBob Musical,” and directed “Make Believe.’” He is currently directing and choreographing “Young Frankenstein.”
Of his current show, he said, “‘Young Frankenstein’ is right on brand for me. Nothing says ‘Wes Drummond’ like a big musical comedy.”
“My goal with this production is to make audiences laugh so hard that they forget where they are until they snap back to reality standing on their feet at the NorShor Theatre,” he said. “This show is ridiculous, campy, strange, sexy, goofy, smart, and over-the-top fun. I can't think of a better show to open Duluth Playhouse's 23/24 Season.”
He added, “The dancing in this show is athletic and fast. There are multiple dialects depending on the character. The humor is very specific, referencing the Mel Brooks' film, combined with a classic heightened Broadway humor. There is a rhythm to the show that requires impeccable pacing and delivery. The script requires a lot of problem-solving from the entire team.”
“The characters also require individual physicality. The actor playing Igor must walk around hunched over the entire show, while the actor playing Frankenstein's monster spends the show in five-inch platform shoes.”
Drummond explained that the cast comprises 14 local actors and 2 guest actors from the Twin Cities. One of the guest actors, Sifryn Oberon, used to live in Duluth. This production employs nine local musicians and an entirely local creative and production team.
Kyle Weiler , who plays the lead role of Frederick Frankenstein in the production, is a Minnesota native and a graduate of The Juilliard School. “Kyle has a pretty epic resume, including performing as the universal swing for the Broadway and touring productions of ‘Hamilton.’ This is his first production with the Playhouse,” said Drummond.
Drummond added, “Directing ‘Young Frankenstein’ at the Duluth Playhouse might take the award for the most hilarious rehearsal process yet! I am having a blast with this show. The cast is a generous, vulnerable, hysterical group of disciplined theatre artists. I look forward to rehearsal every night at the NorShor, and I am most excited about listening to the audience's reaction to the performances.”
Up next for the Duluth Playhouse Is “The Sound of Music” December 1-17.
Drummond will be directing and choreographing the musical “Next to Normal” for the Playhouse, running March 15-31.