LIKE MILLIONS OF KIDS who came of age post-1985, I have ridiculous love for The Breakfast Club. John Hughes' tightest teen movie, Club was praised on its release for capturing the dreams and neuroses of Reagan-era high schoolers. While contemporaries like St. Elmo's Fire and Pretty in Pink seem quaint and awkward now, Hughes' story of five kids bonding in weekend detention has grown both iconic and unexpectedly timeless.
The film's impressive stature is not lost on the Blue Monkey Theater Company, who have adapted Hughes' movie for the stage scene by scene. Much like his 2007 production of Night of the Living Dead, director John Monteverde settles for mimicry over transcendence, duplicating most of the notes Hughes hit without giving any real reason for the repetition.
Not to belittle a good Ally Sheedy impression. Tali Avni as Sheedy's character, Emily Kelly in the Molly Ringwald role, and Corey Brunish as Principal Dick Vernon are all pretty good substitutes. As Brian, Tony Zilka even breathes some new life into his character, taking the role Anthony Michael Hall still can't escape and making it his own. On the flipside of that, Ken Potts strips the Judd Nelson character of his charm and exchanges it for impotent malice. I'm glad he is getting detention for the next eight Saturdays.
Derivative, transcendent, or not, none of these individuals would matter if the cast could capture anything like the chemistry that's so crucial to the original film. They laugh when they're supposed to, fight when they're supposed to, and even do inebriated, glass-shattering dances of joy when they're supposed to, but these five archetypes never seem to like each other (leaving alone the perfunctory romances that seemed tacked on even in the movie).
This lack of chemistry, above all else, is what guts The Breakfast Club of its purpose. John Hughes' script lends itself to the stage fine, and even a Rocky Horror-style cabaret of Club wouldn't be unwelcome. But when you don't care who's friends with whom the coming Monday, all that's left is waiting for the bun-taping story or the lipstick trick, thinking about how fun they were the first time.