Be prepared for Annoyance
Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent: Annoyance Theatre’s “Knot Prepared: The Boy Scout Musical.”
The Boy Scout Musical’
Wilmette Theatre, 122 Central Ave., Wilmette
8 p.m. June 21
Tickets are $15 for this 21-and-older show; beer and wine will be sold
(847) 251-7424 or visit www.wilmettetheatre.com
Updated: June 12, 2012 5:56PM
Sometimes, there’s a limit to how prepared a scout can be ...
For example, you probably wouldn’t expect a Boy Scout troop, flying to a summer camp in the BSA nirvana of the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, to be prepared to crash into the side of a nearby mountainside. No more than you would expect the scouts who made it safely to camp to be fully prepared for scary campfire stories from their scoutmaster about his bitter ex-wife.
It’s always a good idea to expect the unexpected, though, in a show by the professionally provocative Annoyance Theatre, which will stage its “Knot Prepared: The Boy Scout Musical” June 21 at the Wilmette Theatre.
If you’re a long-time Annoyance fan, be prepared for a double-bind in this 25th-anniversary show, which betrays a certain affection for the Scouts at the same time it goes for a demerit badge in sarcasm and satire.
“For an Annoyance show, it’s fairly innocent,” said founder and artistic director Mick Napier, who also directed “Knot Prepared.” “It doesn’t attack the Scouts outright. In fact, there are some songs in the show that could probably be performed verbatim at a Boy Scout jamboree, and they’d be fine with it.
“And that’s kind of ironic, when you consider that my only incentive to actually become famous for my work the last 10 or 15 years was so I could give back my Eagle scout badge — as a protest of the Boy Scouts of America’s whole stand on atheism and homosexuality.”
Indeed, yes, the director of “Coed Prison Sluts” (which Annoyance claims as Chicago’s longest running musical) earned Eagle Scout status while growing up a stalwart lad in Trenton, Ohio, as did every other member of the “Knot Prepared” cast.
As a matter of fact, Napier assembled the cast for the show by putting out a call for Eagle Scouts at Second City and Improv Olympic and other theaters, after an Annoyance company member, who had heard about the real-life 1942 plane crash at Philmont (which just happened to involve two former scouts), pitched the event as a potential show.
“As a result, I worked on this show with people I had never met before in my life, which was very different for me, but it turned out to be a very fun experience,” said Napier. He admits to mixed feelings about the BSA, crediting his experience as a senior scout and troop leader for forging his ability to manage and direct people — in essence making his Annoyance career possible.
He also said it became obvious, early on in developing the show, that his cast had a similar love/hate relationship with the BSA.
“There was a part of scouting that all of us really respected and revered, and a part that we all kind of mutually disdained,” Napier explained. “The latter generally having to do with their alienation of certain factions of this world we’re all part of.
“It does take shots about the whole wholesome image of the Scouts, drawing on our personal experiences about how we as young Scouts thought about things like sex and authority and politics at that time. And it also makes fun of the Scouts being ultra-right, politically.”
Ultimately, Napier said, he is at peace with the relatively innocent and wholesome nature of “Knot Prepared” because “it just panned out that way; it happened organically.”
Especially since there is still material in the show that would doubtless dry up the paint on Norman Rockwell’s palette.
“Yeah,” he said. “You’ve got a bunch of grown men in uniform, wearing short pants and knee socks, singing and dancing. There’s a certain sex appeal to it.”