Calling all North Shore High school graduates of 1984-1990!
I could not have sat next to a more perfect person to watch the opening night of Dear John Hughes with. I won't disclose her name as I didn't get her permission, but let's suffice it to say she was the daughter of a famous Chicago critic. I can only say that she and her mother are absolutely lovely and I am so grateful to have the winning ticket in the seat next to her. The reason for this is I do not have a history with all of John Hughes' work. She, on the other hand, is quite possibly the biggest John Hughes fan, and graduated from a North Shore high school in about '88 and shared that she had probably seen all his movies at least 100 times. Watching the show through her enthusiasm for quoting the lines and thrilled at the mash-up montage of scenes shed light on the whole piece that I would have missed without her.
The show is styled like a cabaret show linked with popular 80's music. Each line is taken from a movie, and every line written by John Hughes himself in a mash-up sketch comedy-like fashion. The show is a nostalgic, campy throwback to mid-1980 and reminisces on the Gen-X teen trials with coming-of-age, prom, detention and relationships. The show weaves in classic scenes and lines from "The Breakfast Club, "Weird Science", "Pretty in Pink", "Sixteen Candles" and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."
Performance highlights are Chicago-area native Patrick Mulvey, playing the sardonic teacher and sometimes breaking the fourth wall, who engages perfectly with the audience. Rumer Willis makes a strong, brooding and misunderstood Mary Stuart Masterson, as portrayed in "Some Kind of Wonderful". The actor who truly stole the audience's hearts was Michael Thomas Grant, who had the audience screaming with approval through his rendition and transformation from "The Brain" into a sexy heartthrob in "Try A Little Tenderness". He brought down the house time and time again with his performances of "Twist and Shout" and "Danke Schoen". The cast had the audience up on their feet singing and dancing at the finale and isn't what this kind of show is meant to be? Just fun, nostalgic and feel good.
Dear John Hughes plays at the Broadway Playhouse through March 15. It runs about two hours with intermission. The show is great for teens and up. But let's face it, Chicagoans who are just about turning 45 will possibly be the ones who love it the most.