“Dear John Hughes” celebrates integral ’80s scenes and songs, in spite of some rough spots

Dear John Hughes Photo Provided by Broadway In Chicago
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Any child of the 1980s is surely infatuated with the many movies of Chicago’s very own John Hughes, and with this year marking the 30th anniversary of the “Brat Pack” ringleader “The Breakfast Club,” it’s only fitting the late great director/producer/screenwriter earn a tribute of some sort. Enter “For The Record: Dear John Hughes,” which is part play and part concert set to the scenes and songs of several era-defining films, including the aforesaid, “Sixteen Candles,” “Weird Science,” “Pretty In Pink,” “Some Kind Of Wonderful” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

It was no surprise that radio regulars like Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s “If You Leave” and Spandau Ballet’s “True” all went over swimmingly, but it was just as delightful to hear alternative gems like The Dream Academy’s “The Edge Of Forever,” The Thompson Twins’ “If You Were Here” and The Smiths’ “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” in such a mainstream setting.

Dear John Hughes

For The Record: Dear John Hughes

Those who know every line by heart are sure to rejoice as the cast and a live band intermingle segments from each at breakneck speed, ensuring loads of laughs, social commentaries and coming of age awakenings. Seeing a bunch of high schoolers sit around detention, struggle through growth spurts and lust over their love interests of the moment are sure to bring back memories, while every seemingly stereotypical teen character’s underlying similarity of simply wanting to fit in and discover themselves retains relevance regardless of the generation.

Unfortunately, those unable to quote these scripts chapter and verse might become confused when watching the Frankenstein-like creation of the perfect girl in “Weird Science” one moment, only to suddenly be surrounded by Ferris and his pals at school a few seconds later (played by some of the same cast members from the prior scene merely switching a jacket or accessory). Another set of opening night drawbacks came from the surprising amount of technical difficulties, including failing microphones, slowly moving spotlights and a soloist who couldn’t keep her drum beat at the same time she was singing.

Thankfully though, there were silver linings to these clouds, mainly in the restoration of familiar and obscure new wave musical nuggets from these best-selling soundtracks. It was no surprise that radio regulars like Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s “If You Leave” and Spandau Ballet’s “True” all went over swimmingly, but it was just as delightful to hear alternative gems like The Dream Academy’s “The Edge Of Forever,” The Thompson Twins’ “If You Were Here” and The Smiths’ “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” in such a mainstream setting. In that regard, “Dear John Hughes” is likely to satisfy, while also ensuring the brilliant man who put it all together (along with “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” “Home Alone” and dozens more pop culture masterpieces) never gets forgotten.


“For The Record: Dear John Hughes” continues various dates and times at Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place through March 15. For additional details and ticket information, visit www.fortherecordlive.com and broadwayinchicago.com.

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