BWW Review: THE LAST BREAKFAST CLUB Earns an A+ for Its Delicious Musical Detention
Kate Pazakis just keeps topping herself with her musical parodies! This time she teams up with Bradley Bredeweg and his Fuse Project for a wildly entertaining THE LAST BREAKFAST CLUB. Co-writers and co-producers Bredeweg and Pazakis have collaborated before in audience-rousing musicals. In THE LAST BREAKFAST CLUB, they ingeniously take the "Musical Parody of" concept and 'fuse' a mash-up of John Hughes' classic film The Breakfast Club with other cinematic cult favorites. The pop song choices are simply genius as they each move the plot along, feeling as if they were actually written as part of THE LAST BREAKFAST CLUB' soundtrack. The high school misfits stuck in an all-day detention in the Shermer High School Library from John Hughes 1985 classic The Breakfast Club receive an updating with up-to-the-minute topical jokes and social issues to deal with. Is there anything worse than all-day detention? Well, maybe an impending apocalypse right around the corner. 1985 or 2017?
The phenomenal cast, top drawer as the Shermer High students: Anna Grace Barlow as The Princess Claire, Garrett Clayton as The Brain Brian, Max Ehrich as The Athlete Andrew, Lana McKissack as The Basket Case Allison, and Jonah Platt as The Criminal Bender; as well as, as the grown-ups: Jimmy Ray Bennett as Principal Vernon and Damon Gravina as The Janitor.
Stellar voices all, harmonious together in back-up and simply stunning in their individual solos or duets.
THE LAST BREAKFAST CLUB opens with a high energy, cleverly choreographed head-banging "It's the End of the World As We Know It" and the energy never lags a second throughout the rest of the show. Oh, at various points, one of the characters will warn the audience when the more toned down moments are coming. "Oh, we're getting so serious now." or "You stay here and sing a beautiful ballad." Chris Downey and Nick Geurts' very fun choreography receives precision execution from the triple-threat cast from the large ensemble numbers (i.e., "Library Dance") to the more intimate monster movements of Platt and Bennett in "Dead Man's Party." Bennett portrays such a great zombie and authoritarian figure as Principal Vernon.
Director Bradley Bredeweg keeps his uber-talented cast moving, singing and/or dancing non-stop to the obvious appreciation of the cheering audience.
Clayton has the most comic lines of the group as Brian, consistently delivering them with unabashed physical gestures and fearless body language of a master clown. "Sir? Sir? Sir?" He nails his solo, "Love Will Lead You Back" and his lead vocals in the closer "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." His duets with Gravina in the comic "Hurts So Good" and with Platt in "Shout/Shout (You Make Me Wanna)" comprise some of the many, many highlights of this show, with each song its own highlight.
Platt as the bad boy Bender gets to exhibit his strong vocal pipes in his solos "The Danger Zone," "Wise Up," and especially in "Sweet Child."
Heart-melting ballads include: Platt's duet with Ehrich in "If You Leave," Ehrich's love song "Broken Wings" and Barlow's tears-inducing rendition of "The Living Years."
Barlow's duet with McKissack "You Give Love a Bad Name" just kills! The two ladies' voices meld together soooooo well! And sooo hotttt!!!
McKissack and Ehrich harmonize most powerfully in Prince's "When Doves Cry."
Gravina as the unassuming, deeply Christian Janitor wows when he opens up his repressed self with "Don't Stop Believing." Later, Gravina grabs full opportunity to show off his rocker chops in "Johnny Be Goode."
As always, the smoking band at The Rockwell (led by musical director Gregory Nabours on piano; with Blake Estrada on bass, Emily Rosenfield on guitar and Greg Sadler on drums) rocks big time!
This production's effectively crowd-pleasing, even if you haven't seen the film The Breakfast Club or are familiar with the 1980's radio hits. WARNING: Your hands will be sore from all the applauding. THE LAST BREAKFAST CLUB is that good!