The Horrible Lamb!
West of Lenin, 203 N. 36th St., 800-838-3006, brownpapertickets.com. $12. 8 p.m. Fri.–Sat. Ends June 29.
This clumsy televangelism spoof is a good example of what happens when artists try to amuse one another without remembering to entertain the audience. Tiffany Louquet’s script for the musical boasts an Avenue Q kind of simplicity, only without the self-aware broadness (sometimes called irony). Slacker Lyle (Caleb Stengel) discovers while channel-surfing that the kid he once teased in school, Hal O’Luyah (get it?), is now a Christian singing sensation with his own television show. Why, Lyle wonders? Why not him? And when you hear Hal (Ben Erickson) sing, you’ll agree. All the singers here are either untrained or inexperienced, and the group numbers sound like a bunch of barnyard animals dropped from a plane.
Interrupting Lyle’s reverie is Mitchelletto (Mike Watt), a simpleton who, without Lyle’s knowing it, has become the cue-card dude on Hal’s TV show. When Lyle’s girlfriend Astrid (Tina Hafzalla) shows up, they conspire to unseat Hal. And with no talent, practice, or motive other than laziness, that’s what they do.
With Mitchelletto to get them backstage, the pair soon encounters Hal, his pregnant wife (Gina Merchan), and the show’s producer (Michael Ferguson). This is where hilarity and hijinks are meant to ensue, but the performances are flat and lifeless, and the cast stumbles through the script. (One performer even called another by the wrong character name.) Hoary old gags are followed by James Nugent’s tuneless songs, augmented by a trio of angels. They also provide commentary and move the plot along when it gets stuck or murky—which is often. Along with some witty screen projections, these angels are the sole saving grace of this 90-minute train wreck, directed by Dirk Hunter.