Hey, you fans of Annoyance Theatre's Co-Ed Prison Sluts. The curtain time is now 10:01 p.m., not 10:31!
Playwright: Mick Napier and many others . At: Annoyance Theatre, 4830 N. Broadway. Phone: 773-561-4665; $15. Runs through: Aug. 29. Photo courtesy of The Annoyance Theatre
Forgive the scolding tone, but the opening-night crowd at the revival of Annoyance's flagship musical had to wait ( we were told ) since some audience members assumed it began at the old starting time. The fact that Annoyance held the curtain for this late mob reveals what I'm sure Annoyance would never want for Co-Ed Prison Sluts to become: an institutionalized nostalgia trip.
Back when Co-Ed Prison Sluts premiered in 1989, I'm sure its playful mix of scatological humor and off-kilter characters shocked and delighted late-night Chicago audiences. It became Annoyance's signature show, running until 2000.
But as a first-time Co-Ed Prison Sluts visitor, it all seems old-hat. Since Co-Ed Prison Sluts was unleashed, the rest of pop culture has caught up and surpassed it. Shows ranging from South Park to Urinetown: The Musical have proven themselves to be better at offering up more political bite with coherently structured plotting amid the gloriously gutter humor.
So what does Co-Ed Prison Sluts have to offer nowadays? I'm sure the nostalgia factor is huge for audiences wanting to twitter again at politically incorrect humor involving murder, child rape, bestiality and more.
The fact that several cast members have returned from the show's original incarnation buoys the notion that people want to relive the old days. If that's all you're looking for, then the current Co-Ed Prison Sluts under original director Mick Napier certainly delivers.
The cast valiantly fought back the impulse to giggle at the script's own jokes ( though Dunbar Dicks as Hamster Man looked frequently close to breaking ) .
Ellen Stoneking is back as the haughtily grand ( and murderous ) Shakespearean actor Dame Toulouse, showing how it's done to some of the newer additions like Colleen Murray's 'innocent' newcomer Alice or James Asmus's stupidly naïve peeping tom Skeeter.
Heath Cordts is an appropriately sleazy and laid-back Slick ( the one constantly demanding sex from everyone ) , while Scott Goldstein does what is necessary to get laughs as the cross-dressing Dr. Bello. Clay Goodpasture does what he can with the tiny villainous role of The Clown.
If the cast is good comically, musically their singing is nothing to write home about ( just listen to Cordt who not only sounds like he's smoked a daily pack of cigarettes for 10 years, but eaten them as well ) . Perhaps I'm being too harsh for what aims to be nothing more than a late night show for tipsy crowds to laugh their heads off. After all, Co-Ed Prison Sluts came of age in a time when it was easier to shock. Now it looks juvenile in light of the competition.