For Denver theater company ScreenPLAY, less is more. Each of its one-time-only performances sees a rotating cast of established Denver actors take on the script of a cult-classic film using no sets and only minimal props and costumes. Instead, the production relies on acting skill and audience interaction to create a whole new version of a well-known film. Tonight at Buntport Theater, The Breakfast Club gets the ScreenPLAY treatment, and director-producer Adrian Egolf has chosen a veteran cast of adults to play the famous teenagers.
"Each reading has a little twist on it — when we did Reservoir Dogs, we had an all-female cast," says Egolf. "For The Breakfast Club, we have a cast of actors who were in high school when the movie premiered thirty years ago." (The cast includes Tracy Shaffer, who was dating Judd Nelson when The Breakfast Club had its1985 premiere and provided some behind-the-scenes backstory.) After she launched the project last summer with The Princess Bride, Egolf began taking polls on the troupe's Facebook page to get a feel for what films people would like to see performed in this way. The Breakfast Club was a popular choice, and its thirtieth anniversary was just coincidental — but Egolf says it was all the more reason to celebrate the fan favorite on stage.
Though tonight's show will be a stripped-down version of the '80s film about a group of high schoolers stuck together in Saturday detention, all of the classic scenes will be intact. "The actors will have scripts in hand, but they've memorized them and will be doing the entire chase sequence from the movie, the dance scene and, of course, the scene when they sit in a circle and smoke a joint," shares the director. There are only one or two rehearsals prior to each production — but it's the unscripted action that makes them come alive.
"It's really interactive with the audience because these are movies people really love," says Egolf, nothing that there's a meta quality about the whole experience, since the crowd's often fervent relaying of classic lines helps guide the production. Those well-known scenes can take a playful turn, as a ScreenPLAY cast discovered when performing The Princess Bride last June. "For that reading, Laurence Curry was playing Inigo Montoya and right before he said, 'You killed my father. Prepare to die,' he turned to the audience and sort of urged them to say it with him," shares Egolf.
An actor and teaching artist at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and the Mizel Arts and Cultural Center, Egolf wants to keep ScreenPLAY low-stress and focused on fun. There are no official auditions for parts; she just asks those involved in the artistic community she works with regularly to take part. Sometimes, actors volunteer themselves for parts, especially when it's a favorite role they might not otherwise get to play. All positions are unpaid; part of the reason Egolf started putting on these one-off productions was to raise money for other performers and organizations on the local arts scene..
Admission to each show is a suggested ten-dollar donation; everything collected at tonight's performance (Buntport donates the space) of The Breakfast Club will go toward the Denver Children's Home's art-based therapy program. Previous shows have benefitted the Denver Actor's Fund and Girls Rock Denver, donating a total of $3,000 to the groups. Not only should these performances be fun for the audience and cast, Egolf says, but they're a way for the community to come together and support different areas of the arts.
Tonight's performance of The Breakfast Club will see Timothy McCracken playing Andew Clark, Sylvia Gregory as Claire Standish, Andrew Uhlenhopp as John Bender, Sam Gregory as Brian Johnson, Erin Rollman as Allison Reynolds, John Moore as Principal Richard Vernon and Kyle Dean Steffen as Janitor Carl and various parents. Tracy Shaffer will be interactively giving stage directions, and this will be Egolf's third performance as director and producer, new roles she has stepped into since masterminding ScreenPLAY.
ScreenPLAY's The Breakfast Club hits the stage at 8 p.m. tonight at Buntport Theater; there is a suggested $10 donation at the door. To find out more about this and upcoming productions from ScreenPLAY, visit the company's Facebook page.
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