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'Animaniacs' Burlesque Brings Sexy Sizzle to Classic Kids Cartoon

By Mathew Katz | October 9, 2012 7:06am

CHELSEA — This burlesque show is totally insane-y.

After a sold-out, three-week run over the summer, Rhinestone Gorilla Burlesque is bringing back its show inspired by the the zany Steven Spielberg-produced cartoon "Animaniacs" for one night only in Chelsea.

The performance will be on Friday at the Helen Mills Theater, on West 26th Street.

The show, named for a recurring sketch on the show called "Good Idea/Bad Idea," includes performers from the burlesque troupe playing characters including the red-nosed Yakko, Wakko and Dot, as well with Pinky and the Brain.

But Rhinestone Gorilla, which got rave reviews for its show during a three week run at the Upper West Side's Triad Theatre in August,  adds a risque twist that its cartoon counterparts never could.

Friday's performance will also feature cartoon sound effects, live music from the Rhinestone Gorilla Band, and a special guest appearance from Rob Paulsen, the Emmy-winning voice actor who played both Yakko and Pinky on "Animaniacs."

Paulsen reached out to Lucida Sans, who plays Pinky in "Good Idea/Bad Idea," about participating in the show after a fan told him about it on Twitter.

"I'm incredibly nervous about performing with him," Sans said. "He'll be singing a couple songs as the characters, and he'll do a few other things we're going to have to leave as a surprise."

"Animaniacs" boomed in popularity during the 1990s, when its zany humor, sharp satire of popular culture and subtle adult humor made it a hit with both kids and their parents.

Equal parts punny and naughty, the tribute is loosely plotted around the Warners — played by Kinky Demure, Angelique A'lamode and Gemma Stone — falling on hard times in the years since "Animaniacs" was popular. They're forced to play gigs at seedy venues, such as a burlesque theater, to make ends meet.

The five-year-old troupe came up with the performance after realizing how much the cartoon had contributed to their sense of humor.

"We're all between the ages of 20 and 27, we all grew up watching 'Animaniacs,'" Sans said. "It shaped our comic minds."

The show takes on "Animaniacs'" style, with sketches featuring Billie Shakes as Slappy the Squirrel, Lucida Sans as Pinky, Avian Rush as Hello Nurse and Spartacus Rising as Chicken Boo.

In one sketch, Pinky and the Brain realize that what they need to take over the world is the Power of Boobs — in the form of guest star Jo "Boobs" Weldon.

Another piece, "Sunday in the Park with Runt," pays homage to the musical "Rita and Runt" sketches from "Animaniacs" that featured an operatic cat and her dim-witted dog friend performing full-on musical theater.

Sans said the show has done so well that the group hopes to perform it locally once a year, and possibly take it on the road if there's enough interest.

Good Idea/Bad Idea starts at 9 p.m. on Oct. 12 at the Helen Mills Theater. 137 W. 26th St. Tickets are available online for $26.50, 137 W. 26th St.