Brandon Weinbrenner on What It Takes to Direct The Nerd


We spoke with Associate Artistic Director Brandon Weinbrenner about Directing The Nerd. Here is what he had to say!

What was your vision for bringing The Nerd to life at Alley Theatre? What aspects of Larry Shue’s comedy drew you to direct this production?

My vision for The Nerd is simple- to make the funniest and best-looking production of the play possible. Shue has crafted an incredibly satisfying comedy. It is so cleverly written and neatly constructed that it just begged to be revisited by this cast chock full of Alley Resident Acting Company members.


The Nerd features a diverse cast of characters. How did you work with the actors to capture the essence of each character and bring out the comedic nuances in their performances?

At its core, this is a play about agency. Each character in their own right is fighting for their right to be heard and their right to achieve their dreams. The comedy is in HOW they each achieve their agency. So as long as the actors are actively working for something in the play, the comedy plays itself out. It’s a surprisingly logical and truthful equation.

The Cast of The Nerd.

Every production has its unique challenges. What were some of the creative solutions or interesting moments you and the team encountered while working on this play?

Prop overload! This play has more props in it than any play I have ever worked on. There are 2 elaborate dinner scenes. Gifts, suitcases, drafting supplies, monster costumes, rocks glasses, and so much more. By far, the biggest challenge is to keep track of all the props- where they come from, who does what to them, where they end up, and how they get there.


Comedy requires precise timing and delivery. How did you approach balancing the comedic elements in The Nerd to ensure the audience experiences both laughter and a deeper connection with the characters?

You’re right, the comedy requires precise timing. A lot of this is achieved by making sure the rib-tickling dialogue is heard and seen. This means that a lot of the action needs to be choreographed around the jokes, which is no small task. At the end of the day though, you have to tell the story, so no joke should outweigh an important plot point or piece of character development. Thankfully this group of actors is fantastic at honoring the characters over the jokes… but also they’re working with a script that seamlessly weaves in the comedy into the character development. We just have to do justice to the script and ourselves, and it works!

Chris Hutchison in The Nerd.

Larry Shue’s comedy has a timeless appeal. How do you hope the audience will connect with The Nerd, and what do you believe makes this production a must-see for theatergoers?

I believe there is much universality in The Nerd. Audiences will be able to relate to almost all of these characters. There is much truth to comedy and that truth is what the audience will recognize. I also hope the audience allows themselves to leave their worries at the door and let the comedy wash over them like a warm hug. There is so much love and joy in this play that it should tickle and delight the couple on a date night, the subscribers wanting to see their ever faithful Resident Actors, and the family that wants an event they all can enjoy. It’s a gem of a play and I think we are making a special production out of it.

Performances of The Nerd run through March 17. Get your tickets now!