Gryphon Theatre, 22 Ghuznee Street, Wellington

04/06/2013 - 08/06/2013

Production Details


Suit and Tie Productions is excited to present the iconic 80s masterpiece, live on stage for the first time in New Zealand. Described as one of the greatest coming-of-age films of all time, the cult classic tells the story of five teenagers who have all earned a full day’s detention on a Saturday.

With nothing else to do but communicate, these five ‘stereotypes’ (a princess, a brain, an athlete, a criminal and a basket-case) slowly pour their hearts out to each other. Eventually they come to realise they are not as different as they thought.

“I love it because it’s such a universal and somewhat timeless story,” says producer Nick Purdie, who also plays the role of John Bender. “When I heard it was being done all over the world, I thought this is something that would go down so well in Wellington. The feedback we’ve been getting is fantastic – it’s all coming together.”

Director Matt Bentley is equally enthusiastic. “We could have cast it four times over. We had such a great turnout at the auditions; all people wanting to be part of this amazing story. But we’ve ended up with a brilliant cast. I really think audiences will warm to these new faces playing such key roles from popular culture.”

With its stellar local cast, amazing soundtrack and unforgettable characters, The Breakfast Club is sure to wow audiences.

The Breakfast Club stars Jessica Aaltonen, James Bayliss, John Chalmers, Georgia Norman, Nick Purdie and Paul Williams.

The Gryphon Theatre, 22 Ghuznee Street, Wellington
Tues 4 – Sat 8 June
2pm matinee, Sat 8 June

Tickets are available from 

Allison – Jessica Aaltonen
Andrew – James Bayliss
Claire – Georgia Norman
Bender – Nick Purdie
Brian – Paul Williams
Vernon – John Chalmers
Carl – Matt Bentley

Credible ownership of iconic roles

Review by Maryanne Cathro 07th Jun 2013

The Breakfast Club is Saturday detention at Shermer High School, Chicago in 1985. Five students attend that day – brain Brian, jock Andrew, basket case Allison, princess Claire and criminal Bender. Coming from different ‘cliques’ they barely know one another, however during nine hours of being thrown together they eventually unite over the common enemy, associate principal Vernon, and their dysfunctional family situations.

The second of director John Hughes’ so called Brat Pack movies about teens and young people in the ‘80s, The Breakfast Club was a low budget, low risk project shot in two months on location with a cast of only seven. In spite of, or perhaps because of, these limitations it has become the gold standard for teen movies forever more, and has an almost cult status. Its simple premise of breaking down social barriers and bonding over common enemies is sensitively and authentically played out. It manages to be unmistakably mid 1980s while still dealing with themes that have resonated with audiences ever since.

So why adapt it for stage? Why not. It is an appealing and relatable story; its one set, small cast and dialogue-driven action are ideal for stage, and adapting such a recognisable icon has enough dramatic challenges to keep it fresh and interesting for a theatre audience. They wisely chose to leave it set in 1985, as the self-analytical dialogue sits comfortably in that time but probably wouldn’t travel well to 2013.

The initial idea [for a Wellington production] came from Nick Purdie, who was returning from a long gig singing covers in Dubai and itching to get back into some theatre. And playing angry bad boy Bender is about as far from singing Cole Porter songs in a silver tuxedo as you can get.

Purdie does not mimic Judd Nelson’s performance. Instead, he uses his benign good looks and considerable physical presence to portray a ruthless bully who seems to be overcompensating for these unwanted virtues. The result is a very credible Bender, who is the trickiest part to play. After all, haven’t we all wondered why he bothers to turn up for school, let alone detentions, at all? There has to be more to him than a defiant bad boy, and indeed there is.

Actually all the cast, in spite of quite remarkable physical resemblances to the originals, bring their own interpretations to the roles.

James Bayliss plays wrestler Andrew Clark as a straight up jock who wants life to be simple, but it isn’t. His reason for being in detention is the saddest of all, and his character goes through the biggest learning curve. Bayliss takes us on this journey with dramatic sensitivity. And some great dance moves. 

Jessica Aaltonen’s jumping bean energy is perfect for basket case Allison. Paul Williams as Brian the brain is the unexpected lynchpin character, a subtly different dynamic from the film, and one which works on stage.

Georgia Norman does a great job playing spoilt princess Claire; John Chalmers as Vernon is suitably reprehensible. Director Matt Bentley steps in as Carl the janitor, naturally extending his role as clock adjuster and setting changer.

Great set and lighting – the back wall of the library setting is marked out in pages of books, and a wheeled scaffolding tower, some tables and chairs and a couch are all used to create scenes through the rest of the school. It is smoothly done.

The adjective I keep wanting to use is “credible”. In spite of the original being iconic and the characters so closely associated with the original actors, this production turns out an extremely credible alternative version. A great vehicle for a talented local cast and crew.


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