Sincerely, The Rebels Club combines two great tastes that taste great together – Star Wars and The Breakfast Club. The result is a bright and eccentric palette cleanser. Produced by Once More With Feeling, this show is a fun treat to lighten up your Toronto Fringe adventures, onstage at Tarragon Theatre Mainspace.
In this parody mash-up, the heroes of a galaxy far far away are re-imagined as high school students stuck in Saturday morning detention, mimicking the premise of the iconic John Hughes flick.
This blend of genres works surprisingly well, with the creative team finding some interesting common ground in films that say very different things. I was worried that the concept of this show would wear itself out within the first few minutes and was pleasantly surprised at how fresh the jokes and characterization was all around.
Remixing the classic characters from both films stood out for me as the most compelling part. This show’s versions of Luke, Leia, and Han were well-suited to the well-known archetypes of a hapless nerd, spoiled rich girl and disaffected criminal.
Some of the character re-interpretations required bold creative risks, such as R2D2 becoming a smartphone, and Darth Vader becoming the resident “weird goth girl” – but the payoff gives us some of the funniest moments in the play.
Jamie Champagne stands out for taking on multiple roles and filling the spaced-out school with the eclectic characters from George Lucas’ portfolio. Where the Star Wars films have dozens of highly practiced character actors perfecting their roles, Champagne does half a dozen of them in 55 minutes.
The caveat is that this show isn’t nearly as funny if you aren’t a fan -or at least aware of – the premise of both pieces of pop culture. The majority of the jokes rely on audiences understanding the references, but it’s not like this show is foggy about what it is. They know who their audience is, and sell the show to them unapologetically.
My nitpick is that the combination of the space and high school settings didn’t quite mesh cohesively in some scenes. I couldn’t tell whether C-3PO was supposed to be a droid or just an incredibly creepy human man. When Chewbacca appears he is the only alien character who isn’t anthromorphized or altered to fit the teenager premise. Not that he needs to be, because who doesn’t love Chewy? But it feels like a bit of comedy potential was lost.
While this show thrives on how well thought-out the character concepts are, I think we needed more of a push for them to step outside their archetypes by the ending, since that is a big part of the point of The Breakfast Club. By the end of the show, they all still read like those labels.
But on the whole, this play is a fun and genuine love letter to its pop culture progenitors, and it promises a good time for its fans.
- Sincerely, The Rebels Club plays at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace. (30 Bridgman Ave.)
- Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (275 Bathurst St.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warning: mature language.
- This venue is barrier-free. Designated accessible seating is in the middle of the auditorium.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- The Toronto Fringe Festival is scent-free: please do not wear perfumes, colognes, or other strongly-scented products.
- Friday July 5th, 6:30 pm
- Sunday July 7th, 10:30 pm
- Monday July 8th, 7:00 pm
- Wednesday July 10th, 4:00 pm
- Friday July 12th, 2:15 pm
- Saturday July 13th, 4:30 pm
- Sunday July 14th, 7:45 pm
Photo by Ivan Hutomo featuring Jon Champagne, Jennifer-Beth Hanchar, David Rowan, Jamie Champagne, Sarah Kolasky