For the Record: Dear John Hughes

Theater, Musicals
2 out of 5 stars

A mash-up of songs and scenes from Hughes's films comes at a price too dear.

The Los Angeles–based cabaret-concert series For the Record features young actor-singers turning soundtracks from the catalogs of iconic movie directors like Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese into a kind of theme-night karaoke. For the group's first Chicago outing, it appropriately fetes John Hughes's North Shore–set ’80s coming-of-age flicks, crooning tunes like Spandau Ballet's "True" and OMD's "If You Leave" with a live band and acting out well-known scenes from Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and The Breakfast Club.

In L.A., For the Record shows are mostly staged in cabaret-style settings, where the actors—whose rotating roster can include recognizable names like Rumer Willis and Evan Rachel Wood, who each take a week in Dear John Hughes's two-week Chicago stand—can roam among the audience or climb atop the bar, creating an immersive, inclusive feel. (The photos attached to this review are from the California staging.) It could be fun to see them take on a Chicago venue like City Winery or Mayne Stage; in a more formal theater space like the Broadway Playhouse, the show feels stiff and skimpy.

The cast can charm: Willis makes a decent Mary Stuart Masterson, channeling Some Kind of Wonderful's tomboy drummer Watts, and Michael Thomas Grant is thoroughly winning as the "brain," encompassing a variety of Matthew Broderick, Jon Cryer and Anthony Michael Hall roles. But with tickets here significantly pricier than For the Record's usual Los Angeles rate, many topping $100 with Ticketmaster fees, watching millennials do movieoke offers far too little bang for the buck—I know that much is true.

Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place. Created by Christopher Lloyd Bratten, Anderson Davis and Shane Scheel. Directed by Anderson Davis. With Rumer Willis, Evan Rachel Wood, Olivia Harris, Jackie Seiden, Ruby Lewis, Payson Lewis, Michael Thomas Grant, James Byous, Patrick Mulvey, Ciarán McCarthy. Running time: 2hrs; one intermission.


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