‘LARD: Life’s a Real Dream’
“LARD” isn’t something anyone has ever used for frying. But make no mistake: It’s cooking.
An acronym for “Life’s a Real Dream,” the title captures the whimsy of Steven Erdman, the songwriter, cartoonist and animator who stars in this rollicking musical production at the 13th Street Repertory Theater. Taking the stage as his alter ego, the Human Lard Dog, he performs with his Band of Shy, delivering a rockabilly sound with what I’d call a Devo sensibility.
Lard Dog actually hails from Belopio, supposedly our solar system’s last planet. (Sorry, Pluto, it’s your second dis in a decade.) Pretzels power everything there, and the inhabitants slurp noodles, dig holes upward and revere the number 23. If Lard Dog’s attire — a mix of flying ace and tennis nerd — is any indication, they dress funny, too.
In other words, the planet is supremely silly, and so is this hourlong show, whose charming M.C., Louis Luminous (Patrick Holbert), offers each arriving audience member a choice of a prop to wave: a cartoon eye or a cartoon head (Lard Dog’s self-portrait), each mounted on a cardboard stick. When I declined to take one, he told me politely that I had to. (I give “LARD” points for insisting that adults behave like children.)
Onstage, a screen shows words to shout, lyrics to sing and comical videos and images, including those of figures wearing LARD signs, like Oscar Wilde and a Tyrannosaurus rex. (Barry Goldwater has a cameo as Lard Dog’s dance instructor.)
Surprises happen within the aisles, too. Lard Dog lands in his spaceship, a giant pretzel. Other objects, like cotton balls and balloons, take to the air. This is the only concert I’ve attended at which audience members sing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” to the tune of “Louie, Louie.” It’s also the only one I’ve attended at which everyone performs lustily on a sadly underused piece of percussion: Bubble Wrap.
The Band of Shy — Jeremy Beck, Akira Ohiso, Rosa Avila and Pablo Kessel — plays more conventional instruments as well, and Lard Dog and Honey Babe (the lovely-voiced Kendy Gable) provide vocals. The songs range from sizzling to soulful, and though the music sometimes muffles their lyrics, they address earthly concerns like shyness (Jason Dole portrays a bashful friend) as well as outer space lunacy. (Above, from left, Mr. Ohiso, Ms. Gable, Mr. Erdman, Mr. Beck and Mr. Kessel.)
The group has two more performances and a CD release planned for March, so there’s still time to investigate Belopio. Don’t be shy.
(Saturday and Jan. 2 at 11 a.m., 50 West 13th Street, Greenwich Village, houseoflard.com.)