November 21, 2013

From ‘Breakfast Club’ to Jazz Club: Catching up with Molly Ringwald

She performs two shows with her jazz quartet Saturday in Bangor

By Aimsel Ponti
News Assistant

“Do you know how popular I am? I am so popular. Everybody loves me so much at this school,” said Molly Ringwald’s character, Claire Standish, in the timeless film “The Breakfast Club” almost 30 years ago.

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Molly Ringwald has starred in movies and on TV, written two books and this year released a jazz album, “Except Sometimes.”

Courtesy photo

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WHEN: 4 and 7:30 p.m. shows on Saturday

WHERE: The Gracie Theatre at Husson University, Bangor

HOW MUCH: $25, $32;

Little did Ringwald know that that film and two other John Hughes classics, “Pretty in Pink” and “Sixteen Candles,” would also excel in the popularity department all these years later, sealing her fate as a Hollywood icon for now three generations of movie fans … and counting.

So much so that being recognized is a constant.

“Mostly thanks to those movies playing ad naseum on television. I feel like they are always on somewhere,” said Ringwald, 45, from her Los Angeles home. “I just didn’t know that you make a movie and people are still obsessed with it all these years later. People really respond. So many people have their memories tied up in them, it’s not just a movie, it’s everything that it kind of represented in their lives.”

Ringwald did, however, recently dye her famous red locks blonde, which she says is helping a little.

But what some people might not know is that Ringwald’s life, as with all of ours, moved well beyond the ’80s. She’s written two books, had a five-season run on a TV show (“The Secret Life of the American Teenager”), is the mother of three kids, including a set of 4-year-old twins, and most recently released a jazz album called “Except Sometimes.” Ringwald and her jazz quartet will be playing two shows in Bangor on Saturday at The Gracie Theatre.

Her oldest child is 10-year-old Mathilda, who has developed awareness over time that her mother walks something of an unusual career path. “She didn’t really know exactly what I did because it’s true that I do all these different things.”

Mathilda has watched her mother perform on stage in New York and has seen her spend countless hours in front of a computer writing. But what really got the message across was hearing from her school pals. “It seemed like all of her classmates had seen those movies before she had. Now she’s 10 years old and she knows her way around online, even though we have all these parental controls set up, she’s figured it out and that’s out of the bag.”

As for the importance of music in her life and the path that led to the release of “Except Sometimes” in April, the story starts right at home. Ringwald’s father, Robert Ringwald, is a jazz pianist, and as a child she sang on a record he cut with his Fulton Street Jazz Band. Traditional jazz is his cornerstone and for his daughter, the early musical education led her further down the rabbit hole of the genre. “I found my way to Ella Fitzgerald and from Ella to Duke Ellington and Chet Baker. My taste gravitated more toward the great American songbook rather than the strict traditional jazz that my dad listens to.”

The great American songbook is in fact part of the inspiration for “Except Sometimes.”

“It really is a touchstone and I sort of look at it as musical comfort food. I really think the great American songbook with the lyrics and everything found the sweet spot,” Ringwald said.

Back in the heyday of these songs, theater and Hollywood films were where many of them lived. “I obviously had a big interest in theater as well, so there was that crossover,” she said.

In 2008 Ringwald put a band together with pianist Peter Smith (he also produced “Except Sometimes”), drummer Clayton Cameron, alto sax player Allen Mezquida and bassist Trevor Ware.

(Continued on page 2)

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