OnStage Florida Columnist
Last week I had a wonderful, relaxing vacation on the Norwegian Escape (a cruise). It was filled with games, socializing, and, most importantly, theatre. I would be doing a disservice to myself if I hadn’t taken advantage of the free shows on the boat. I really didn’t know what to expect of the shows I was about to see; however, one blew me away.
I may sound silly, but I mean it when I say that For The Record Live: The Brat Pack may just be one of the best things I have ever seen.
It was a combination of several things I love: ‘80s movies, ‘80s music, and extremely talented people.
The show took the plot of several ‘80s classics (The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire, Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Weird Science, Say Anything, and Some Kind of Wonderful) and iconic songs from that era to create an explosive piece of theatre that was incredible to watch. The stage lit up, not only with the bright neon lights, but with the talent of the young actors that graced it. Each took their role and made something unique about it.
Marissa von Bleicken: Powerful.
Bleicken played the role of “The Princess” in this show, bringing back those characters that Molly Ringwald made famous in the ‘80s. Now, some (including myself) may now this actress from The Glee Project. She was actually one of my favorites on the show when it aired. With already knowing her talent she still exceeded my expectations. Her vocals were were clear and her belt was smooth. She had complete control of her voice and it was evident. She was extremely lovable as well with her bright smile and confident attitude. Her talent in her craft is undeniable.
Michael Pilato: Charming.
Pilato perfectly encaptured the layers of his character (“The Jock”), not only by winning the hearts of everyone in the room, but by also showing the conflict he faced. The tug-of-war between his reputation and his feelings was clear and really tugged at the heart-strings. He allowed himself to be vulnerable and project that on the audience. Then, he would dance and sing, and that is enough to have people start fawning over him. He sang to me at one point and, as adolescent as it may sound, my heart exploded. Pilato played the role so well that we felt like Molly Ringwald, in awe of the popular jock and wanting to know more about the character.
Kyle Sherman: Mind-blowing.
Sherman was casted as “The Geek” and played the role with extreme amounts of charm. Even though the audience was familiar with him from the start, I can say that every person was blown away by his first song. It begins with flawless riffs that immediately have us praising with screams and claps. His vocal performance was one of perfection, for he executed extreme range and function. On top of that, his acting was brilliant. He lost himself in the roles he played, whether he made every girl in the house swoon while singing Danke Schoen or ripped hearts apart with Ducky’s monologue. I was also extremely happy to find out that he is also a Northwestern alumni (Go Cats!).
Rustin Cole Sailors: Heartthrob.
The role of “The Rebel” was played by Sailors and he nailed his role as the outcast who wears his heart on his sleeve. While standing on stage playing the guitar and singing “Somebody’s Baby,” he stole every heart in the room. Then you see him place his whole self into a phone call with Diane Court, the girl he is utterly in love with that is seen as just too good for him. Then, on top of all that, we walks out carrying the iconic boombox over his head, and the audience just loses it. He was more than just an angsty teen, he was vulnerable and brought more to the role than just edge, he brought life.
Emily Lopez: Honest.
Lopez played the role of “The Basketcase” and she blew me away with her sheer ability to put so much power and honesty into her character. She was frustrated at her best friend for pining after a girl she knew would only hurt him while balancing her own feelings toward him, and it struck me. She gave her heart to the audience, expressing every ounce of pain and anger she felt toward her situation. Then in other moments she was so adorable and bubbly that she warmed your insides. Additionally, her powerful vocals allowed her to channel her emotions into more than just expressions; when she sang you did not just hear notes, you heard feelings.
The other members of the cast were also brilliant. The principal was hilarious, whether he was playing a crazy man out to expose his student enemy or impersonating a dull teacher with the memorable line, “Bueller?”
The ensemble was so lively. I never saw one of them out of character, and they brought extra energy to really raise the bar of this show. Two of them even brought me onstage to dance, which was extremely fun.
Everything about the show was incredible to me. Every vocal performance was professional and the acting was all spectacular. After seeing the show for a first time, I went back to see it for a second time as well. It was charming, energetic, edgy, sweet, and rocking, a formula for a fantastic piece of theatre.
I mean, really, what more can you ask for then extremely talented performers bringing your favorite ‘80s movies and characters to life right before your eyes?