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REVIEW: Animaniacs Live! was look behind the scenes of an animated classic

Penny Ridenour / Red Dirt Report
Randy Rogel and Rob Paulsen were part of team behind Animaniacs. They appeared at the Tower Theatre in Oklahoma City this past Friday.
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- “I get paid for doing what I got in trouble for in the seventh grade,” said Rob Paulsen at the Animaniacs Live! Concert on Friday night at the Tower Theatre, 425 NW 23rd in Oklahoma City.

Paulsen and composer Randy Rogel, took to the stage to give a peek behind the curtain of the beloved ‘90s tongue-in- cheek cartoon series. Paulsen, who voiced the character of Yakko Warner as well as Pinkie, Dr. Scratchansniff and others on the show, highlighted the multiple facets necessary to bring the show to life from composing songs, animating the story lines, voicing the characters, and scoring the music for the orchestra.

A far departure from the fan experience of the characters taking on a life of their own on the small screen.

Very interesting, but as an Animaniacs fan from way back, it seemed to me that Paulsen was lip syncing the real Yakko. I could see Paulsen’s mouth moving, but all my imagination could perceive was the loveable Groucho Marx-ish, mouse-ish character.

Rogel, who was responsible for the Animaniacs many songs about state capitals, countries of the world, or some other reality-based topic, revealed unknown verses and alternate endings to some of the fan favorites. The Animaniacs songs are sometimes a rhyming anthology of knowledge with a silly slant set to a lively beat.

One song in particular starts with the Warner siblings inside a snow globe starting with the tiniest parts of matter and expanding to encompass the planets, comets, and universes until this universe is related to the expanse of all space as being as small as the Warners in the snow globe. The ending verse to that song was never used in the actual cartoon, as per a call from the legal department.

As the story was related, Paulsen told the audience would know immediately what it was prohibited as soon as the verse was added. Rogel played the not-for- public-consumption verse, and elicited a widespread chuckle from the crowd, as the last words were “it’s a small world after all.”

“You don’t mess with the mouse,” Paulsen quipped.

Randy Rogel talks to the Tower Theatre audience on Friday night. (Penny Ridenour / Red Dirt Report)

Rogel and Paulsen played off of each other’s stories as if the show were casual banter betweencoworkers. A few of the stories were illustrated by actual bits of the cartoon, but most were related with Rogel behind a baby grand piano and Paulsen singing and gesticulating like his inner lounge singer.

Rogel pointed out that Paulsen had the experience of seeing fans relate their love of the Animaniacs series through participating in Comi-cons all over the country. Rogel said he represented the unseen stars of the show, like the composers, animators, and orchestra whose relation to show was from inside an office. Rogel said the national tour of the Animaniacs Live! Concert was the first time he has able to experience fan’s reaction to his work, and it was a thrill for him.

Paulsen has decades of experience as the voice of beloved cartoons, reaching from characters in Tiny Toons and Taz-mania to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Jimmy Neutron.

Animaniacs, produced by Steven Spielberg, has been introduced to a whole new generation of fans through Netflix. One fan asked Paulsen and Rogel about a rumor that Animaniacs was to be rebooted.

They said in unison they could neither confirm nor deny that possibility.

Monday, December 11th, 2017 11:38am

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