Somewhat Recommended ** Tonight I was at an opening of a show that I am unsure of as being a show. Let me explain this to you. There is a show entitled “For The Record presents Dear John Hughes”, probably one of the longest titles a two-hour production(there is a 15 minute intermission) could have. It is a combination of soundtracks from the films that Mr. Hughes brought to the silver screen, many of which were Chicago based. They call it a concert even or a review, but by doing some of the scenes, “live”, I feel we need to call it more. While there was some strong talent on the stage of the intimate Broadway Playhouse, I for one would have liked the story to follow closer to what Mr. Hughes created, and possibly a few actual shots from the movies themselves.
Songs from “Sixteen Candles”, “The Breakfast Club”, Weird Science” , “Pretty In Pink”, Some Kind of Wonderful” and of course “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” brought back some great memories. Depending on your age, you might be in heaven, or you could be wondering what this is all about. The Broadway Playhouse was designed to be just that a “playhouse”, not a concert hall, so the use of this well designed theater with great acoustics for these loud “rock-type” shows makes no sense. My ears were in pain (and I am hard of hearing, I am told by my grandkids). Also the lights flashing into the audience do not make for great entertainment. The lights flashing into our eyes added nothing to the story being told and in some cases took our eyes away from the super talent that they have assembled to bring this show to Chicago, the home of Mr. Hughes.
History tells us that this began in a small bar in LA and has grown much larger and in demand all over. I feel that the talent is there, the musicians under the direction of Christopher Lloyd Bratten, powerful and the voices we hear better than average. The ensemble made up of Olivia Harris (what a powerful voice), Payson Lewis, James Byous, Jackie Seiden (another powerful singer), Patrick Mulvey, the very comical Michael Thomas Grant and Rumer Willis (who truly showed she was not just in the show because of her heritage). Ms. Willis will be replaced starting in week two by Evan Rachel Wood, who many might know from TV and her many film roles. She has some pretty big boots to fill as Ms Willis was top-notch.
The concept of this show is to breathe new life into the movies by adapting the works and the movie soundtracks into a concert setting. Directed and Adapted by Anderson Davis with choreography by Spencer Lif, it is entertaining , although with all the running up and down the aisles and rail sitting, often scary,but in my opinion could be stronger in story-telling. The music is the works of Altered Images, Billy Idol, Nik Kershaw, Simple Minds, The Beatles (“Twist and Shout”), Wayne Newton (“Danke Schoen”) and scads of others. Great songs and solid talent- should have been at least ***, maybe even ****. All they needed was a better way of presenting it. You be the judge. I would love to hear from you on this one.
Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.
Fridays at 8:00 p.m.
Saturdays at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Sundays at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Tickets range from $32-$79 and can be purchased at any of the Broadway In Chicago box offices, by calling the Broadway In Chicago Ticketline at 800-775-2000 , at all Ticketmaster outlets or online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com
Discount parking is available at Water Tower Place- make sure you get a validation card in the theater lobby (saves a lot of money).
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “For The Record: Dear John Hughes”