It seems that every new kids’ CD consists of original lyrics about life as a preschooler, mixed onto a rock or hip-hop beat. But when John Lithgow was appearing in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels earlier this year, he came up with a fresh idea for his third children’s album: a collection of archaic, oddball songs. “I asked my buddies in and around Scoundrels for some great old songs,” says the actor during a lunch break from taping his new sitcom, Twenty Good Years. Ted Sperling, Scoundrels’ musical director, offered Tin Pan Alley numbers like “I Always Say Hello to a Flower,” “Lullabye in Ragtime,” and “Inka Dinka Doo.” Composer David Yazbek suggested “The Laughing Policeman.” The result, titled The Sunny Side of the Street, pleases Lithgow so much that the actor, whom kids know best as the villainous voice of Lord Farquaad in Shrek, admits to playing it over and over again in his car and on his iPod. Lithgow’s musical acting ranges from charmingly farcical to patrician professorial here, and he’s backed up by a surprising group of co-stars: the kids’ choir of the United Nations International School, as well as Wayne Knight (Seinfeld’s Newman) and Sherie Rene Scott (Scoundrels’ hottie-in-chief). On Sunday, Lithgow and Scott will take the new CD to the stage with a matinee at Joe’s Pub, which is where, he says, this notion of doing children’s projects all began. “In the seventies, I was in several Public Theater shows, and I had a meeting with Joe Papp,” Lithgow recalls. “I proposed a concert for kids of great cabaret songs, and that’s the last I ever heard from him on the subject. Thirty years later, we’re making it happen.”
10/8 at 11 a.m.; Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette St., nr. Astor Pl. (212-967-7555 or joespub.com); $25 grown-ups, $15 kids 12 and younger.