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Holiday songs with John Hughes in Los Feliz

The writer-director's movies inspire an offbeat mash-up at Barre. Wear a holiday sweater, grab a Griswold and sing along.

November 17, 2011|By Jamie Wetherbe, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Rogelio Douglas Jr. in scene from "For The Record: John Hughes (Holiday Road)."
Rogelio Douglas Jr. in scene from "For The Record: John Hughes (Holiday… (xx )

The films of John Hughes can teach us a thing or two about how to survive the holidays: Unwelcome kin are best left to their RV, burglars can be thwarted with homemade booby traps, and you should always travel with John Candy.

"For the Record: John Hughes (Holiday Road)," a musical production playing at Show at Barre Nov. 17-Dec. 30, is a mash-up of the soundtracks and quotable moments from Hughes' holiday classics — including "Home Alone," "Christmas Vacation" and "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" — with a dose of his '80s teen flicks.

It's Long Duk Dong meets the Griswolds, live in concert.

"There are two sides to John Hughes' career," says show creator and producer-director Shane Scheel. "There are his teen movies from the '80s and ties to the Brat Pack, and then there are these quirky comedies about family."

The two volumes of the late writer-director's work come together in "Holiday Road," with the first half dedicated to Hughes' nostalgic '80s fare in scenes and songs from "The Breakfast Club," "Sixteen Candles," "Pretty in Pink," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Weird Science," and since it is the season, the second half moves into Hughes' holiday hits.

"I love a Christmas show but not that much of a Christmas show," says Scheel.

"Holiday Road" is part of Show at Barre's "For the Record" series conceived by Scheel and musical director Chris Bratten, a series that's a mix of theater, cabaret, concert and supper club, with each installment focusing on a particular director's catalog.

The series started about a year ago at Barre, an 80-or-so seat offshoot of the Vermont/Rockwell restaurant complex, with highlights from Quentin Tarantino works and later director Baz Luhrmann — both of whom saw and praised their respective tributes, says Scheel — as well as a Coen brothers show and a less holiday-centric version of Hughes' work.

"We wanted to create an original show for Los Angeles, and the idea of Hollywood soundtracks came up," says Scheel.

Since the city is ground zero for movie- and music-making, a live show combining film, concert and theater seemed like something uniquely L.A., says Scheel.

"It's a concert that celebrates soundtracks," he adds.

During "For the Record" shows, about half a dozen performers, many with Broadway credits, take on multiple roles and costumes, dancing and strutting on every possible surface of Barre — chairs, the bar, sound booth and a makeshift stage in the middle of the room that looks no sturdier than a folding table.

As the name suggests, Barre looks like more of a bar than theater, and performers wait for their cues on the sidewalk outside, weave through waiters and packed tables, sometimes pausing at a patron's chair for an impromptu lap dance or serenade.

"The audience is very much a part of the show," says assistant director Darryl Semira, who will swap his role as Vincent Vega in the "Tarantino" installment for Ferris Bueller in "Holiday Road." "You don't know who will shout out the next line."

The Hughes singalong is backed by live music from a four-piece band and includes songs like "Holiday Road," "Christmas Vacation" and "Mele Kalikimaka," as well as "Don't You (Forget About Me)," "Weird Science" and "Danke Schoen."

Barre's menu of appetizers, entrees and desserts — including ahi tuna tacos, goat cheese and truffle ravioli, and panna cotta — will be augmented with a series of signature cocktails for the Hughes show, and of-age patrons who don a holiday sweater will receive a free "Griswold" cocktail made with vodka, orange liqueur, egg white, rosemary and chestnut honey.

Expect a full crowd with everyone from film buffs to theater devotees and prepare to get knee-to-knee with the people you came with and likely those you didn't as most tables are shared. "You will meet new people," says Scheel. "People [in the audience] will hear a song and ask each other, 'What movie is this from?' It becomes an interactive experience."

"For the Record" has become so popular, says Scheel, that come March the wall between Barre and Vermont Kitchen will come down to double the size of the performance space.

"It's the new generation of supper clubs," says Scheel, "where you can eat, drink and watch a show, and it doesn't feel like a wedding banquet."

'For the Record: John Hughes (Holiday Road)'

Where: Show at Barre, 1714 N. Vermont Ave., L.A.

When: Nov. 17-Dec. 30; Wed., 8 p.m.; Thurs.-Sat., 9 p.m.; Sun., 8 p.m.

Price: $35


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