Ever heard of Yakko from “Animaniacs,” Pinky from “Pinky and the Brain,” Raphael and Donatello from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” or even Jimmy Neutron’s tubby friend Carl? Well, they’re all coming to New York City this month! “How?” you may ask. Why, in the form of the legendary voice actor that gave them life in the first place, Rob Paulsen.
Accompanied by the composer of “Animaniacs” Randy Rogel and the signature characters that made Paulsen’s voice famous; he will perform in sync with the tunes and cartoons on screen at the live show, “Animaniacs in Concert!”
“It is such a blast to stand up on stage and look out at all these grownups singing. They start clapping. They start standing up. They start moving around. It’s mind-blowing,” Paulsen continues, “I don’t dress up like Yakko or Donatello or Karl. I just whip out the voices…You remember Karl?” Paulsen asks, casually breaking into the voice of that rosy rotund character that had once appeared on countless television sets across the world.
The best thing about being a voice actor is that it doesn’t matter how old or tall you are, or even what kind of nose you have, Paulsen explains, it’s about your creativity.“Whether your tall, thin, short, fat, handsome, ugly, it doesn’t matter. It’s about your skill and the ability to bring it to life.” Paulsen says.
Even at sixty years old and recovering from throat cancer, Paulsen doesn’t miss a beat. “United States, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Haiti, Jamaica, Peru!” Paulsen sings, his voice upshifting into the nasal high-pitched voice of Yakko.
The ability to make people laugh by uttering a word or phrase is the best part of his job, Paulsen says. “The one thing that everybody shares all over the world is the joy of laughing. It doesn’t matter what language, it doesn’t matter what your religion is, we all love to laugh. And, to be able to leave a legacy of joy and laughter for people to share with your children, and further generations.”
After nearly losing his life and livelihood to throat cancer, Paulsen is grateful to be able to whip out the voices of beloved characters known all over the world. Though he claims that cartoons didn’t save his life, they kind of did. The fans of his characters are children who are fighting impossibly difficult diseases and are utterly brave. The simple act of wearing a “turtle garb” or talking to the ninja turtle Raphael on the phone seemed to have a kind of magical effect on the kids. The amazing bravery of these kids gave Paulsen a healthy perspective when he had his turn in the “cancer cage.”
“I had never seen anybody more utterly brave and the children, often, were far braver than the parents,” Paulsen says, “They totally set me up for my own ability to deal with it— I would like to think in a relatively brave, controlled way, because I saw this bravery from children.”
Now that he is out of treatment and recovering, Paulsen is overjoyed to go on tour with his partner in crime, Rogel, and he cannot wait to meet everyone that comes.
“We occupy a really special place in people’s hearts so if we fill up a show of five hundred or a thousand people, it’s a remarkable experience on both sides. And, the music of course,” Paulsen says, “It holds up beautifully and it’s really a blast to perform it live.”
The “Animaniacs in Concert!” on March 31st is a “timeless” show for all members of the family. This month clap along to some of your favorite songs, shake the hand of your favorite character’s voices and watch animated characters of your childhood given new life. Grab your husband, kids, and meet the cartoon characters you grew up with! At City Winery, for one night only, spend a night with Yakko, Pinkie, Donatello and Raphael, and even Carl, all in the form of Rob Paulsen!
$35-$40, 7:30 p.m., March 31. City Winery 155 Varick St, New York, NY 10013, 212-608-0555
For more information on show, visit animaniacslive.com