Guest Director Brings Passion to "Children of Eden"
Wes Drummond is a performer and emerging director/choreographer who brings his passion to SIU Theater as a guest artist for the upcoming production of “Children of Eden,” which plays Oct. 20-23 in the McLeod Theater.
A native of Bowling Green, Ky., Wes says he first saw “Children of Eden” at Western Kentucky University and was so inspired by the production, he went on to earn a degree in theater at the school.
“The music is so strong,” says Wes, “it pulls you in. It’s a good balance of big numbers and small intimate scenes. It’s accessible because people already know the plot, but Stephen Schwartz, the composer, tells the story in a different way that engages you. He focuses on themes that are universally common, like decision making and parent-children relations. Those are things we have all experienced.”
Wes has been busy in the years since school. He was recently in a national tour of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” and served as resident artistic director for McLeod Summer Playhouse’s 2016 season, directing productions of ”Rock of Ages,” “Bring it On!” and “Pinnochio.” He has also been assistant to the director for “Oliver!” at Paper Mill Playhouse, assistant director for “Les Miserables” at WPPAC and director for “Ca$h, Comfort, Sex” at the Manhattan Rep. Other MSP credits include “Oklahoma!,” “Anything Goes”, ”Hairspray” and “James and the Giant Peach.”
Wes says he’s having a blast with “Children of Eden.” “The cast is really talented and committed,” he reports. “There are a lot of great people in the production; 31 actually; it’s the largest cast I’ve worked with.” He also says the show is a nice change from recent pop-rock productions. “The dance is more lyrical and modern,” he says, “and creating it has been a collaborative effort between the performers and myself.”
He feels the show will be appreciated by a wide range of audiences. “Families will like it,” he believes. “The story is exciting, dramatic and family appropriate. And college students will get a lot out of it, “he says. “College is a time when they are making a lot of decisions and decision making is a huge theme throughout. And theater fans will love it. You can hear the hint of future Schwartz hits; a snatch from ‘Pippin,’ an echo of ‘Godspell” or a phrase that makes you think of ‘Wicked.’”
What does he hope audiences will take away from the show? “We’ve been given the world with all its ups and downs,” Wes says. “There is lots of good and lots of flaw, and it’s up to us to create the future. This world will be what we make it and we’re responsible for that.”
Schwartz sums it up in the closing lyrics:
“Our hands can choose to drop the knife.
Our hearts can choose to stop the hating,
’Cause every moment of our life is the beginning.”
For tickets and information, visit this page.