DeWitt “The Breakfast Club” is considered one of the best American films of the 1980s. It was certainly one of Dan Rowlands’ favorites.
By adapting and directing a stage version now presented by CNY Playhouse at Shoppingtown Mall, Rowlands pays tender tribute to the quintessential high-school movie written and directed in 1985 by the late John Hughes.
Rowlands’ onstage homage works for two reasons. First, he relies heavily on Hughes’ original script with dialogue reflecting the carefree rhythms of modern teenage speaking patterns. Then, he carefully casts five talented young actors as the quirky quintet serving a day-long Saturday detention for a variety of academic transgressions.
Each of the five errant students represent various cliques which exist at all secondary schools. Jordan Glaski portrays sarcastic bad boy John Bender, Joel Miscone plays jock Andrew Clark, Kim Panek portrays the wealthy and beautiful Claire Standish, Justin Polly plays brainiac Brian Johnson , and Kasey McHale portrays outcast loner Allison Reynolds.
Rounding out the cast are skinny David Vickers as assistant principal Richard Vernon and the beer-bellied Sean Pratt as Carl the janitor.
The action is set almost entirely in the high-school library, where the students are assigned to write a 1,000-word essay about who they think they are. Bender, who enjoys getting Vernon’s goat, disregards the rules and riles the other students, mocking Brian the brain and Andrew the wrestler, and harassing lovely Claire. Allison remains quiet at first, but her occasional outbursts eventually reveal her as a lonely pathological liar.
As the kids get to know each other, talk turns to sex, drugs, self-esteem and parental incompetence.
In order to encapsulate Hughes’ exposition, Rowlands strays slightly from the film’s format by writing soliloquys for the teens. The device works brilliantly as each of the actors uses the spotlight to reveal something deep and dark about their flawed characters.