BWW Preview: ANIMANIACS LIVE! Returns to Joe's Pub This Weekend
It isn't exclusive to this year, but 2018 has, undoubtedly, an often-criticized soft spot for nostalgia, especially as it pertains to television. Everything old has become new again, with a seemingly never-ending slew of revivals, from QUEER EYE to MURPHY BROWN and everything in between and beyond.
"Kids' shows" have not been exempt from this, particularly animated series from the early- and mid-'90s. Nickelodeon's HEY ARNOLD released a TV movie last year and has been in talks for a revival. The raunchy ROCKO'S MODERN LIFE (whose creators and voice actors went on to create and star in the less raunchy SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS, which recently wrapped up its own Broadway musical), will be doing the same with a special bringing its characters, fittingly, into the modern age and forcing its titular modern character to deal with technological advances and the universally-dwindling attention span.
Add that to an upcoming INVADER ZIM TV movie, a RUGRATS revival, and many, many, many more.
Warner Bros.'s ANIMANIACS may be a little different, though. The half-hour program featuring three siblings, Wakko, Yakko, and Dot, lends itself to revival. Save from being an animated sketch show featuring a wide variety of unique and colorful characters, ANIMANIACS was comedy, musical theatre, and education wrapped into one. It served, and continues to serve, as an educational tool (countries, planets, presidents), a cultural behemoth (Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals, Prince jokes, Madonna appearances), and an outlet for socio-political commentary. When its own revival lands at Hulu in 2020, one look out the window at the world today proves it has a lot of material to work with.
In the meanwhile, fans can relive the show's early days with the return performance of ANIMANIACS LIVE! at Joe's Pub. Featuring Yakko Warner voice actor Rob Paulsen and the show musician/lyricist Randy Rogel, the show serves as a nostalgic romp and revisitation of one of the '90s most formative "kids'" shows, an unfitting moniker. Like many of the animated shows within that era of television, ANIMANIACS was a show dressed up for children to talk up to them, rather than down at them.
The duo collaborates on show favorites (such as "Yakko's World," "I'm Cute," "Wakko's America," and more) and tells stories, shares clips, and takes questions from the audience. Similar to its premiere last year, the performance at Joe's Pub will come in conjunction with this year's New York Comic Con, giving long-time fans the opportunity to travel downtown to revel in nostalgia. At last year's performance, when, at the end, it came time for a Q&A with Paulsen and Rogel, several audience members who got the mic expressed their admiration and told the creators they had since passed the show onto their own children. Those kids were learning the same songs and ever-timely lessons and references their parents learned from Warner Bros. two decades prior.
And with a revival, well... taking one more look out the window, what's the harm in a little nostalgia, anyway?
Ashley Steves is BroadwayWorld's Cabaret Editor and an arts and entertainment writer based in New York. Follow her on Twitter @NoThisIsAshley.