The Annoyance Theatre Comes to Wilmette

Believe it—“Sluts” are coming to Wilmette.

(Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in Oct. 2011. “Co-Ed Prison Sluts” is making a return appearance Saturday, November 17 at 9 p.m.)

Wilmette Theatre’s alternative-to-movies programming, which features monthly comedy nights, Rocky Horror, burlesque and more, is expanding to bring two of Chicago-based Annoyance Theatre’s shows to Wilmette this month, including Chicago’s longest-running musical, “Co-Ed Prison Sluts.”

Make It Better got the specifics in an email conversation with Nili Yelin, the show’s producer.

How do you hope shows such as “Co-Ed Prison Sluts” and “Messing With a Friend,” from the improv comic Susan Messing, will be received? Why should people go?

No matter what kind of material we present, the quality and the talent justifies people’s time and money. The Annoyance is one of the top theaters for improvisation and original work in the country and has started the careers of people such as recent Emmy host Jane Lynch. Actually, the woman who wrote the music and lyrics for “Co-Ed Prison Sluts,” Faith Soloway, was one of the writers Jane Lynch brought in for her Emmy material. Also, “Sluts” (it’s fun to say) is the longest running musical in Chicago.

Susan Messing is a brilliant improviser, a Northwestern University theater grad and is regarded in high esteem by the most talented comedic minds in the country. She teaches and performs nationwide, and is a unique and original talent.

What’s the goal in bringing this kind of expanded programming to Wilmette?

The Wilmette Theatre likes to bring the best of what’s happening in Chicago to the North Shore. We do it in partnership with Chicago Underground Comedy for our monthly comedy shows, we bring the best of cabaret from Chicago and now we are partnering with a theater known for controversial and subversive material.

What’s nice is an audience sees the material in a very safe environment. Also, Annoyance shows start later in the evening, and after working and taking care of family, it’s nice to be able to go close to home, see a show at 8 p.m. instead of 10 p.m. or later, and see if you are getting conservative in your old age. Just because people live out in the sleepy suburbs doesn’t mean you have to lose your edge and grow dull.

Do you think Annoyance’s programming will translate well to North Shore audiences?

I admit I’m a little nervous about the reaction, but I’ve already been so surprised by the number of people who love this idea. There are a lot of open-minded theater and comedy lovers up here. Even I have fallen for the generalizations about suburban life, but there is a rebellious and fun spirit in those of us who are busy raising kids and working. I have even seen Grandma types let loose at our drag and burlesque shows. Our urban spirit doesn’t totally disappear; sometimes it just hides.

If these shows go well, do you hope to continue to bring these shows up north?

Yes, we plan to continue this partnership. We are planning more after the holidays and believe this “crossing the border” from the city will enrich both our theaters. I’m personally hoping that they will bring their Rahm Emanuel show to Wilmette, where he is from … the title is too filthy to print so just check it out at annoyanceproductions.com.