Derby United Methodist Church, at the corner of 5th and Elizabeth Street in Derby, the home of Pack 3, the oldest Cub Scout Pack in the United States, is also home to the world’s longest running Scout Gang Show . Originally known as a Minstrel Show, when the annual performance began in 1922, the Housatonic Council Cub Scout Pack 3, Boy Scout Troop 3 and Venture Crew 33 Annual Scout Gang Show has been performed annually, except for two years during World War II.
The show follows in the tradition of British Scout Gang Shows, with songs, skits and jokes performed by the members of the three scout groups. The local show is the only known show of its kind performed in the United States, however Gang Shows are performed throughout the United Kingdom, Australia and beyond. It is said that not a day goes by that a Scout Gang Show isn’t performed somewhere in the world. In fact, Scout Gang Shows will take place in Newport and North Hampton, England on the same weekend as Derby’s Scout Gang Show.
Some of the many thousands of scouts who have performed locally over the 85 years include movie and theater actor Brian Dennehy, Center Stage Director Gary Scarpa, Shelton Aldermanic President John Anglace, Bill Menna, the former Mayor of Ansonia, and Marc Garofalo, former Mayor of Derby, who will be making a special guest performance again this year as he has done for more than 30 years. Troop 3 alumnus Jeffrey Johns, who performed in the show in the 1990s, has worked as the character Peter Pan at Disneyland and he will appear in TV show, America’s Got Talent this summer.
For most of it’s history, the show was under the direction of the late Scouting pioneer and charter Derby Hall of Fame member Edmund D. Strang. Troop 3 Scoutmaster Randy Ritter is in his 15th year serving as interlocutor and director for the show and pianist Marc Weissman is pianist for his 4th year. Fun men, or joke tellers for the show include Charles Stankye IV , a third generation performer joining his father and grandfather, Christopher Wentz, Alex Oppel, Jimmy Anderson, Al Palumbo, Barry Howard, Matthew Decho and Donald King. All are Troop 3 Eagle Scouts except for Oppel, who is currently a Life Scout. Stooges, performing run-on skits include Alex Neuendorf, Chris Townsend, Tyler Stankye, Adarsh Salian and Brian Mezzapelle. The Stooges are under the direction of Rodman Kneen, Sr. who has participated in the show for a remarkable 74 years!
The scouts have been rehearsing since February for the May 8 & 9 shows. The theme is “Fabulous Fifties” featuring many of the hit songs of the 1950s . Some of the highlight performances of the show include “If I don’t have you”, by Chorus Director Ryan Downs, “Bye, Bye Love”, on Friday night to be performed by Cub Scouts Davidjon Kirpas and Naveen Madavala, and on Saturday by Boy Scouts Noah Cirisoli and Matt Moran, “Be Bop a Lula” by Cub Scout Ben Grasso and Life Scout Alex Oppel, who will play piano and sing for “Great Balls of Fire”.
The show begins at 7:30PM on May 8th & 9th with a 7:15PM pre show community sing. Tickets are $7, and can be purchased through any Pack 3, Troop 3 or Crew 33 scout, or by calling 203-733-5347 . A limited number of tickets will be available at the door. Proceeds from the show benefit the scouts attending Housatonic Council Cub Scout Day Camp, Edmund D. Strang Scout Reservation summer camp and Troop 3’s July trip to the Grand Canyon.
Cub Scout Pack 3 Derby meets 7PM on Mondays at it’s sponsoring organization, The Derby United Methodist Church. Venture Crew 33 is sponsored by the Derby-Shelton Rotary Club and Troop 3 Derby is sponsored by the Derby 2nd Congregational Church. Both the troop and crew meet on Wednesdays, 7PM at the Derby 2nd Congregational Church. All three scout groups are part of Housatonic Council BSA and welcome new members from throughout the Lower Naugatuck Valley. This post was contributed by Troop 3 Scoutmaster Randy Ritter.