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December 05, 2016
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When life hands you lemons...

Steven Henry Erdman’s alter ego, the Human Lard dog, enthralled the sold-out crowd at the NaCL in Highland Lake.

When I heard that the show was sold out two days prior, more intrigue set in, and I arrived early, to secure a good spot, surrounded by kids, kids... everywhere. The al fresco spaghetti dinner before the show provided terrific sustenance, and although I eschewed the lemonade, the camaraderie was fantastic as I mingled and schmoozed (attorneys at law) with friends and newcomers from far and wide. The excitement was palpable, and upon entering the theatre, rose to a fever pitch.

Artwork by Steven Henry Erdman adorned the walls, hung from the ceiling and was handed out to the little ones (I snagged a lard-dog-on-a-stick) as the audience was instantly transported to a musical world that could be described as akin to Pee Wee’s Playhouse on a salty (pretzels were everywhere), sugary high. Erdman, backed by Tamika McClellan and Nicole Holloway (The La’Delles) made his energetic entrance after the band marched through the crowd, New Orleans style. The musicians (Marc Switko, Cindy Rickmond, Peter Florance, Curtis Hasselbring, Jeremy Beck and Jay Collins) sounded, as promised, amazing—and Jason Dole (“he’s a ploop, treat him nice”) joined Master of Ceremonies Duke Scoppa, accordion man Doug Rogers and (gasp!) Grandma Michelle in blowing the roof off of the place.

Song after frenetic song belted out to the crowd swept the children (and adults) into the Lard Dog’s world and held us (yep, even me!) in thrall as the show built in momentum. Pelting the kids with balloons, beach balls and pretzels caused them to shriek with glee as they interacted with the show throughout. Projected images played across the giant screen with mini-movies, song titles, cartoons and more as the show careened (seemingly) out of control, dizzying in scope, thrilling (IMHO) to experience.

Having been informed that LARD was an acronym, and that one has to attend a show to discover its meaning, I hesitate to share, yet feel that I must. “Life’s A Real Dream” is beyond apropos for the giddy, ridiculous, silly and psychedelic universe that Erdman and Co. have created and my fervent wish is to see this production thrive. Just when I thought that lemonade was bitter, it turns out to be sweet after all, and I have the man-child known as the Human Lard Dog to thank. Look out, Pee Wee, there’s a new kid in town.