I was strolling past the magazine counter yesterday at the airport on my way to Fort Lauderdale to cover the gay scene, when this LIFE magazine jumped out at me — along with a memory of my million-dollar idea that never came to be.
The photo was on the cover of one of LIFE’s many commemorative issues (apparently they’ve decided to monetize their vast archives for nostalgists rather than create new content), this one celebrating movies of the ’80s. There, in their signature pose, were the recluse (Ally Sheedy), the brain (Anthony Michael Hall), the jock (Emilio Estevez), the beauty (Molly Ringwald), and the rebel (Judd Nelson), better known by their collective name and the classic comedy that made them stars, The Breakfast Club.
Except for a brief, non-essential scene where they bust out of their day-long Saturday detention classroom, the entire film takes place in one place. And you’d never know it. There’s nothing even slightly claustrophobic about it, even though the five are essentially incarcerated together.
My million-dollar idea was to turn it into a play. And why not? With ’80s-era music or an original score that would provide them opportunities to sing solo and as an ensemble? Even better. Dreamgirls was created in the image of ’60s Motown songs without ever using a single hit recorded for the label. Likewise with the more recent Broadway smash, Memphis, which skitters from one genre of music created there to another over a span of years, all without skipping a beat.
And while gazing at that image on the LIFE magazine cover, I began to consider it all again. Take a page from the Spamalot playbook and use both original and new-for-the-stage material. Make the first act a recapitulation of the film, and then in the second, watch them reunite in that same classroom in present time. Maybe their jailer/teacher has passed. Maybe one of the original quintet is gone, which is what exactly brought the principals of The Big Chill back together in another ’80s cinematic cultural touchstone.
All of that led me to thinking about you, loyal Metrosourcerers: I cannot count how many times it’s happened that as soon as I’ve told people I’m a writer, their instant response has been, “you should write about me!” (Guess what? Most of the people worth writing about have stories to tell, not just personalities so large they demand it.) But what is true is that, even if everybody doesn’t have a book in them that ought to come out, many people do have a worthwhile dream idea that for whatever reason, they’ll never make happen.
Last modified: November 15, 2017