The Breakfast Club
Kinda feel old sitting here listening to “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds with these Reno teens half my age who’ve never seen John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club. The talented teens on stage have seen the movie, perhaps many times. They’ve picked up mannerisms, tones and comic timing from the 1985 flick about a handful of Chicago teens who exist in stereotype—a brain, a princess, an athlete, a basket case and a criminal—and the eight hours spent in detention on a Saturday in 1984.
The film captured the nothingness of growing up in the 1980s. Hughes’ movie wasn’t brilliant art. But the Baby Boomer director, who also wrote and directed Sixteen Candles and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, could have been our hero. If he hadn’t have gone on to make Maid in Manhattan and Flubber.
The Breakfast Club as performed by the Bishop Manogue Catholic High School and directed by Bob Barsanti of the Riverfront Theater is tidier than the original flick. Subtracting a few dozen expletives and shortening scenes that allude to drug use (to make it acceptable for these teens) shortens the play by 35 minutes.
Bender (Manogue’s Graham Culbertson in a spiffy newish Pygmy Love Circus T-shirt) isn’t grungy enough for an early ‘80s stoner. Bender (played by Judd Nelson in 1985) wore threadbare flannel and a thrift shop overcoat that looked like it would smell bad. Still, looking too-recently showered is Culbertson’s only fault. He deftly handles the role of hardened smartass nonconformist who provides the doobage (fictional pot—don’t worry, Mom!) that finally loosens up the students.
Drew Guyton puts plenty of testosterone into the role of jock wrestler Andrew. Mariah Smith is lovely as the popular stuck-up beauty queen Claire. Luc Proctor, playing smart, nerdy Brian the Brain, brilliantly rounds his character out as he reveals that he’s flunking metal shop.
Though Casey Ballinger as nutty Allison has the fewest lines, she does a stunning job of flipping mayo-coated bologna against the wall. I was impressed.
The new, comfy, raised theater-style seats were packed with Manogue students during Sunday’s matinee.
“Are you getting extra credit, too?” a girl asked her friend.
“Yeah, and I need it.”
“So have you ever seen this movie?”
“This is a movie?”
Before the play starts, Bob “Mr.” Barsanti, Manogue theater instructor and Riverfront founder, gives instructions for behaving in the theater. Turn cell phones off. Don’t get up and walk around during the play. Students say Mr. Barsanti is cool.
The teens laugh in all the right places. Like the dialogue between Bender and Andrew:
Andrew: “Hey, you’re not urinating in here, man!”
Bender: “Don’t talk! Don’t talk! It makes it crawl back up.”
“You whip it out and you’re dead before the first drop hits the floor.”
“Ooooh, you’re pretty sexy when you’re angry. Grrr!”
And I’m laughing but also feeling like I’ve answered Andrew’s question: “My God, are we gonna be like our parents?”
To which Allison replies: "It’s unavoidable, it just happens."