'Dear John Hughes': Songs of 'Ferris Bueller,' 'Sixteen Candles' live

Landmark films from the 1980s by John Hughes get mash-up treatment in 'Dear John Hughes'

It was 30 minutes until showtime, and the group backstage was singing scales to warm up and putting the finishing touches on hair and makeup.

“It’s so hot,” Evan Rachel Wood said, fanning her face with her hand.

Next to her, Olivia Harris awaited her turn to get a mike hooked up. Ruby Lewis adjusted her costume in front of a vanity mirror.

The set list for the night ahead was divided into five chapters: "The Princess & the Jock," "A Rebel & a Basket Case," "The Geek," "Prom" and, last but not least, "Detention."

The show: “Dear John Hughes," a mash-up of songs and scenes from the director’s landmark  '80s flicks about high schoolers, including "Sixteen Candles," "Pretty in Pink," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off,” "Weird Science” and “Some Kind of Wonderful.”

The show opened over the weekend at DBA nightclub in West Hollywood, just in time for the 30th anniversary of “The Breakfast Club.”

DBA embraced the theatricality of the '80s. Servers bobbed around in colorful headbands, big hair, crop tops, sequins, jean jackets and clunky jewelry. Pink and purple lights flickered in the otherwise dim space. Cocktails were appropriately named “The Day Off,” “On a Bender,” “Windy City” and “1984” after iconic characters, cities and years in Hughes' films.

Harris said part of the fun of playing in the show was adding her own flair to the timeless roles.

“We’re doing interpretations of the roles and songs, so we’re not stuck in any certain style,” she said. “There’s a lot of authenticity all around -- it’s so John Hughes, everyone’s quirks are shown.”

Wood, who showcased her singing talents in the 2007 film “Across the Universe,” echoed the enthusiasm.

“I think what sets [Hughes] apart from other teen genre films was the profound subtext in everything,” she said. “It wasn’t just girl likes boy.… He really got to the heart of kids and teens and high school, things we still carry around to this day.”

By 8 p.m., the lights went out as the "Dear John Hughes" ensemble began singing "The Edge of Forever" (the Dream Academy song in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off") and "Don't You (Forget About Me)" (the Simple Minds' song in "The Breakfast Club").

Though there was a stage at the center of the packed club, the actors used the entire space -- climbing on top of the bar, into booths and even over people in the audience.

The production, which runs through April 5, is part of the “For the Record” series, which takes filmmakers' works and transforms them into cabaret-esque show.

Anderson Davis, Shane Scheel and Christopher Lloyd Bratten started the series in 2009 at an intimate bar -- just about 60 seats -- in Los Feliz.

"I told the actors the first day of rehearsal we're not doing a parody show  ... we're doing a show that does something brand new," Davis said. "Yes we take the films, characters and songs, but we put them all together and mix it up to create something unique. It's its own experience." 

The series migrated to a larger venue in March 2014, following the popularity of shows that have featured works from directors such as Quentin Tarantino and Baz Luhrmann.

Why Hughes? 

"So many reasons, obviously," Davis said. But, in large part, because "he had a huge influence on music.

"A director maybe that wasn't as brilliant would have a sillier, more pop kind of sound in his films. But Hughes made the soundtracks really intense and deep."


"Dear John Hughes"

Where: DBA, 7969 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, 90046

When: Fridays to Sundays, through April 5

Cost: $39 to $59

Info: dbahollywood.com/calendar/ 

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