Arts and Culture

Student brings cult movie seamlessly to stage

“Well, well, well. Welcome to detention. I want to congratulate you for being on time. I see some familiar faces and some less familiar. You have exactly one hour to think about what you did”, Anastasia Tammen ’16 lectured the audience as they took their seats in the Hindle Auditiorum between April 4 and April 6. Her tone was glib and patronizing, but people eagerly listened as she accurately portrayed Principal Vernon while introducing Wheaton’s stage production of The Breakfast Club, the famous story of five students who become close friends after Saturday detention.

When Thomas Nagata saw Clue last year, as adapted by Jenny Brum ’12, he was inspired to make a production of his own, and started to write a stage adaptation of The Breakfast Club the following April. After months of hard work, he was ready to direct. When asked about his choice to adapt this particular movie, Nagata replied, “The Breakfast Club focuses on the interaction between the characters and their internal struggles as opposed to sets, costumes and props. It is a great play with little to no budget.”

The play was indeed rather simplistic, with the set consisting of four tables in the front and a row of lockers to the side. A blank chalkboard provided the backdrop. Five students made their way to the stage to silently take their seats in the sparse, uninspiring surroundings, meaning that detention had just begun.

John Bender, played by Sven Wiberg ’15, defiantly broke the silence and thus lived up to his reputation as the school “criminal.” Wiberg, who often plays the bad guy in Wheaton productions, unsurprisingly shined in this role as he antagonized the other students and Vernon, often with crude language.

Other actors and actresses also excelled in their roles. Jack Quigley ’16 garnered much laughs as Brian, the school “brain” who tried to ignore the bickering of the other students so he could finish his essay. Claire (played by Amanda Mullaney ’15) and Andy (Luke Demers ’14) did justice to their roles as the popular kids as they attempted to deflect Bender’s insults. Ally, the “basket-case”, spent much of the play in silence while sitting in the back, but Carlie Smith ’14 nonetheless caught the attention of the audience with her eccentric mannerisms, thus bringing the character to life.

As Saturday detention wore on, the students got themselves into loads of trouble and had many heated arguments along the way. As time progressed further, however, one could notice how each character developed. Andy opened up about the pressure he felt from his dad to be number one in wrestling. Brian was able to relate, admitting that he almost killed himself when he was unable to get perfect grades. Even Claire, the “princess”, expressed anxiety about being the center of attention all the time.

It turned out that everyone had their insecurities and that the students were able to bond over shared struggles despite their differences in background. The actors and actresses involved were thus able to show more vulnerability and expand upon their original archetypes, which was satisfying to see. By the time detention was over, everyone was walking out of the sparse, uninspiring room as friends.

Nagata noted that the entire production, including stage crew and make-up, was run solely by students. Everyone who was involved did a fantastic job, and by the end of the show one could see that all of their hard work had paid off. Wheaton would be lucky to have more student-run productions like this in the future.