By Zachary Daum
Emmy Award winning cast members Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche and Emmy Award winning composer Randy Rogel drove Lebanon mad, making an appearance last weekend at the Russel E. and Fern M. Hettenhausen Center for the Arts (The Hett), performing skits and music numbers from “The Animaniacs.”
Animaniacs was a comedy “magazine show” animated series that ran from 1993 to 1999, more recently running three revival seasons from 2020 to 2023 on Hulu. Holding several short skits and stories during its runtime, each episode focused on comedy, bringing silliness to the screen for children all over the world. It was one of several spiritual successors Looney Tunes by Warner Bros. It starred Yakko, Wakko, the “Warner Brothers” and the self proclaimed, “Warner Sister” Dot, as well as Pinky and the Brain and several other characters. It won several Emmy awards during its run and was nominated for one during its revival.
Paulsen is best known for his portrayal of Yakko and Pinky from “The Animaniacs,” as well as voicing Carl Wheezer in the Nickelodeon movie and animated series, “The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron,” as well as Raphael of the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” LaMarche is best known for his role as The Brain in “The Animaniacs,” as well as Calculon from “Futurama,” Yosemite Sam from “Looney Tunes,” and Toucan Sam, mascot for Fruit Loops cereal. Rogel is known for his musical talents, having composed music for “The Animaniacs,” “Batman the Animated Series,” “Freakazoid,” and several direct to video Disney Animated movies and cartoon series.
Rogel mentioned that during the show’s run, he wrote a song meant to highlight, the self proclaimed, “Warner Sister” Dot’s cuteness, but was told it seemed more fitting for something from Disney. Going back to the song, he added comedic elements to the song.
Paulsen added, “If Disney is the happiest place on earth, Warner Bros. is the funniest.”
During the performance, Paulsen and Rogel performed several songs from the show, some of those included “I’m Cute,” “A Quake! A Quake!” a prototype version of “L.A. Dot,” called “La Dot,” that wasn’t featured in the show, followed by the aired version of “L.A. Dot,” Hello Nurse and several more. LaMarche joined in for a few songs, including “Take Over the World,” where he performed as his character, “The Brain.”
Those who attended the show varied in age and enthusiasm, with some getting into character by dressing as their favorites from the show. People also sported their favorite memorabilia from the show as a showing of their dedication to the series.
Although the original series can only be purchased online digitally, the revival seasons are available on Hulu for streaming at this time.
Director of The Hett, Michelle Magnussen spoke excitedly of working with Rogel, Paulsen and LaMarche, “I was thrilled to get the opportunity to bring them to our venue. I was a huge fan of the show when it originally came out, so I was very excited for the chance to see them live. They were wonderful to work with; warm, friendly, and consummate professionals.”
As well as performing, the group also spoke to classes at McKendree, imparting some of their experiences onto the students.
Magnussen also wanted to let people know about upcoming shows at the Hett, “We’ve got some exciting things coming up. Masterworks Chorale and Giordano Dance from Chicago in March, Arcadia Dance Orchestra and Head East in April. Check out our website for more information, www.thehett.com or find us on Facebook.”