Two years back, the legendary filmmaker, John Hughes, granted a final gift to the North Shore. The Chicagoland icon died in 2009 after a broad career in filmmaking, where he spent most of his time in Chicago’s North Shore suburbs. Hughes was the director of hit 80’s and 90’s movies such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and 16 Candles and his portfolio houses classics ranging from family movies to relatable teen stories.
In November of 2014, Nancy Hughes, John Hughes’ widower, graciously donated $2 million to the Gorton Community Centre in Lake Forest in honor of her late husband. Nancy Hughes spoke of her joy with the future construction and improvements, being “elated” that her husband was being granted a tribute as touching and as personal as a theater in the hometown of their children and the setting of some of his legendary movies.
Now, in 2016, two years after the announcement, the theater has been in full working order with all its new features. With $1.5 million in tow, the Gorton Center has been able to obtain a new exterior marquee, improved sound and lighting systems, the addition of a theater-quality video projector, digital video player, and a movie theater-quality screen for large format films. The theater seats 300 and has been hosting local theater clubs, the Battle of the Bands competition, and more.
Starting last October in 2015, the last $500,000 was put to use as the John Hughes theater shared the Gene Siskel Film Center Series, showcasing Sundance Film Festival movies like People, Places, Things. The Film Series filled the theater with nearly 300 people on opening night and gave use to the new theater and all of its renovations.
After a great response to the Gene Siskel Film Center Series, Gorton announced its “Summer Film Series at Gorton”. The Film series began on June 21st with one of Hughes’ most reputable movies, The Breakfast Club, and continued until September 9th when its final movie, The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, would be screened. The “Summer Film Series” also included movies such as Mean Girls, Clueless, Jaws, and Casablanca, ensuring there is a movie available for people of all interests.
The John and Nancy Hughes theater has yet to announce the following encore to the Film Series, but has promised another Hughes specialty in the coming year. The 30th-anniversary screening for the Home Alone filmmakers, Pretty in Pink will be held on September 16th at 6:00 pm. Tickets will cost $16 a person or $30 per couple. Flyers will be posted around Lake Forest and the surrounding area, showcasing the special screening and highly suggesting that others come wearing their greatest 80’s get up.