Bringing John Hughes' Movies to Life

While most movie fans are satisfied building a collection of their favorite DVDs, Shane Scheel has gone miles beyond in his devotion to his favorite cinematic treasures.

As the co-creator and producer with Christopher Lloyd Bratten of the “For The Record” series of live events held at the Barre VT bar in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, he has paid tribute to the films of the Coen Brothers and Quentin Tarantino. The series features performers re-enacting the most iconic dialogue exchanges of those filmmakers’ features, as well as singing and dancing their way through the greatest tunes of their oeuvre.

John HughesBut Scheel has topped himself big-time with his current show, “John Hughes: Holiday Road,” which plays Wednesday through Sunday nights before closing Dec. 30.

The two-hour extravaganza features an amazingly talented six-person cast and a five-piece rock band bringing the best of Hughes’ scenes and songs to life from his ’80s films through “Home Alone.” Whether you’re a fan of Hughes’ high school movies (“Pretty in Pink” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”) or the “Vacation” series and “Planes Trains and Automobiles,” the interactive cabaret-style show is one of the most entertaining nights of music and comedy you’ll ever experience.

Scheel spoke with Big Hollywood recently about how the “For The Record” series – which next takes on Baz Luhrmann’s films including “Moulin Rouge” – came about, and why he thinks Hughes’ films continue to resonate with American film fans.

“I had been working in LA for a few years and my partner, who’s music director for the shows, had been looking for a project to do,” explains Scheel, who ironically grew up in the small town of Buhler, Kansas. “We started by taking complete soundtracks, knew a lot of really great singers and actors and decided to pull the best ones together and started these as concerts. We later decided to add quotable lines.”

The producing duo started with the films of Tarantino because his soundtracks actually included the most memorable lines from his films. As they refined their hybrid concept, they tried to create shows so strong that they would help define Los Angeles entertainment, creating a scene unique to the city.

Yet they also learned from a viewing of the failed “Sister Act: The Musical” that the balance of music and dialogue had to be just right if the shows were going to work.

“I was in London a year ago and went to see ‘Sister Act: The Musical,'” Scheel says. “As an audience member I was expecting to hear some of the songs that made the movie what it was, redone in a very fun fresh way. When I got there it was an original score with none of the original songs from the movie, which was a little disappointing. Soundtracks are under-appreciated, but music helps tell these stories and in particular John Hughes helped launch a lot of British bands in the ’80s through his movies.”

Scheel feels that Hughes’ enduring appeal lies in the fact that “we were all teenagers once,” yet Scheel was careful to make sure that the show was evenly divided between the high school era of Hughes’ work and the films set outside the academic scene.

“I’ve read a number of times that he gave teenagers a very clear, fresh, unapologetic voice, as real people with real problems and a real clear voice for that time period as well,” he says. “He had such great archetypes through the geek, rebel, princess, basket case and jock. We all identify with one of those and that’s where the universality of his material came from. I watched my dad with the ‘Vacation’ movies laughing and laughing, and kids have a classic in ‘Home Alone.'”

“There are universal truths in all his movies, I think we can all identify with different portions of his career,” he adds.

The show ends with a rousing, gospel-style romp through “Joy to the World,” which Hughes used in at least one of his many Christmas-set movies. Having built a long-running career in production management for many touring musicals, Scheel knew that sending people out with a burst of extra-spiritual uplift was a winning proposition and underscored the broad appeal of the show.

“I grew up in the church and know a ton of gospel songs, plus a number of our actors have strong ties to that music and one of our performers is married to a minister,” Scheel says. “Just like in Hughes’ movies, there are a couple of words you might want to tune out, but this is a show I can bring my church to.”

Scheel hopes to bring “John Hughes: Holiday Road” to Chicago and New York in the future, but for now, it can be seen at Barre VT bar, located at 1714 N. Vermont Ave, Los Angeles.

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