by Karl Buiter and Stephanie Wien. Video by Karl Buiter. Video editing by Steven Ng.
Listen carefully while wandering through Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure park, and you might hear sounds of city life filtering down from the upper floors... from optometrist Dr. Seamore Clearly fashioning glasses for a patient with his new eyeglass-making machine, to intrepid radio reporters discuss mysterious lights at a local cemetery over at Oswald's. Walt Disney Imagineering, the research and development arm of Disney Parks, created these audio treasures on Buena Vista Street to mirror the environmental richness found in the upper windows of Disneyland’s Main Street.
At the 2013 D23 Expo, the same Disney Imagineers and a cast of professional voice actors re-created these scenes live in front of an appreciative audience. Brian Nefsky, Casting Director at Walt Disney Imagineering, hosted the presentation of panelists, which included Walt Disney Imagineering Senior Show Writer Dave Fisher and professional voice-over actors Fred Tatasciore, Allen Lulu, Philip Proctor, Bob Joles, Candi Milo, and Tim Blaney.
The presentation began with a series of performances by the cast, including the Scary Symphony radio program.
The full cast performs Scary Symphony at the 2013 D23 Expo. MousePlanet Video.
Upon the completion of Scary Symphony, a call to “Strike the Set” was made and Brian Nefsky introduced Senior Show Writer Dave Fisher. Fisher shared background information on the inspiration for the atmospheric performances on Buena Vista Street, which include the optometrist, a dance studio, and an art studio. For example, "Hank and Wally"—a show that is based on the popular Amos 'n' Andy radio sitcom that ran in the U.S., from the 1920s through '50s—pays tribute to Disney animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. Scary Symphony, a show Fischer authored, pays tribute to Orson Welles' infamous "The War of the Worlds" episode of The Mercury Theatre on the Air that aired in 1938.
Fisher noted that as a writer, "you just have words on a page... but then you bring in people like this who totally bring it to life." The talented voice actors involved with all of the atmospheric sounds contributed to the development of the material, helping to coax the very best from the written words. After Fisher's opening remarks about the development process behind the Buena Vista Street Voices, the Dave Fisher re-took the podium to change the focus to the individual voice-over actor panelists with some introductions.
Philip Proctor is one of the four founders of Firesign Theatre, a comedy group that continues to produce recordings after 45 years. The Firesign group got its start on local Los Angeles radio station KPFK as the cast of Peter Bergman’s Radio Free Oz. In the early days of the group, the actors would assume different characters during talk segments with their listeners. One skit, entitled The Oz Film Festival, was based on the odd premise of film directors screening their films on radio. The group knew they'd made an impression when they presented "Blondie goes to the Dentist," and the station was inundated with angry callers upset that they would show a dirty movie on the radio.
Philip provides voices for cartoons, commercials, and films; he has performed various voice roles for Disney projects, including Beauty and the Beast, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Aladdin, The Lion King, Hercules, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug's Life, Finding Nemo and Tarzan. He is best known for the voice of Howard in Rugrats.
On Buena Vista Street, Philip is featured in "The Continuing Adventures of Dr. Seamore Clearly."
Bob Joles was introduced with a piece of audio Disneyland fans are likely very familiar with: his safety spiel for Indiana Jones and The Temple of the Forbidden Eye; Joles plays the voice of Sallah. When visiting the park, Bob's family has often pointed out his performance to neighboring riders in the queue. However, Bob can be heard in other Disneyland locations, including Star Tours and the Boudin Bakery; Bob was also formerly the captain's voice on the Mark Twain. In Disney animated films, Bob has a continuing role as Sneezy, one of the Seven Dwarfs, and also played Bagheera in Jungle Book 2.
For the Buena Vista Street recordings, Bob's voice is featured in the "FF&P Classical Music Hour" advertisement.
Allen Lulu has appeared on-camera in over 183 commercials, including those for A&W Restaurants in Canada and as the SpokesBee for IBC Bank in Texas. On television he has guest credits on Coach, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Big Time Rush, and many more. He also provides voices and dying sounds on several video games.
Candi Milo will be most familiar to fans of Luigi’s Flying Tires in Cars Land; her performance of "C’e La Luna Mezz’o Mare" was played during the panel. Candi was excited about her performance, which was recorded at Capital Records' famous studio, because she started out by pursuing a singing career. After the recording session Candi told her agents, “I could now die happy, because I am a voice in a Disney property.” Her mother is 89 and was very excited about her singing in Italian at the park; Candi is looking forward to the day she is her mother’s age, and can bring her grandchildren into the park to hear their grandmother’s voice.
Candi recalled her early years where she met voice-over agents while performing, “...and they came up and handed me a card that said you should be doing cartoon voices. I thought that’s so nice, thanks so much, glad you like the singing. And you can hear some comedy in there. Perfect." Eventually, Candi’s career moved to on-camera commercials, where she was the well-known “Open, open, open” lady in Mervyn’s commercials; she has performed in hundreds of commercials, including those for Pearle Vision and Southern States Ford. In current animated voice-over work, she replaced Christine Cavanaugh as the voice of Dexter in Dexter’s Laboratory and is also the voice of Nick Dean in The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius.
On Buena Vista Street, Candi can be heard along with Philip Proctor in "The Continuing Adventures of Dr. Seamore Clearly."
Tim Blaney was hired by Animatronic Performance Supervisor Tony Urbano and Special Effects Makeup Artist Rick Baker as a puppeteer for Men In Black., handling such roles as the "worm guy that spills coffee." Along the way, Rick had an idea to have an actor in pug makeup, and Tim performed the role as a reference for the digital animation; that role became Frank the Pug. He only regrets not having a photo taken of him in the makeup.
Tim has performed roles as Number 5 in Short Circuit and as the puppeteer for Snuggles (the bear) in the Snuggle Fabric Softener commercials. He routinely works as a puppeteer for the Muppets, most recently performing Guy Smiley in The Muppets, and as Rizzo the Rat during the 2009 D23 Expo. He likes voice-over work, as it provides an opportunity to play within a performance without being seen.
Fred Tatasciore, a very animated voice-over actor, has many roles within the Disney parks. He is the voice of the Space Mountain safety message, the Gungan in Star Tours, and was the voice of Darth Vader during the announcement of the new Star Tours refurbishment at the 2009 D23 Expo. During the panel, moderator Brian Nefsky provided a sound demonstration of the original and processed audio for Fred’s work as the Yeti in Expedition Everest in Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Fred has a continuing role as the voice of Marvel Comics' Hulk in several animated series, and recently provided the voice-over for many characters in Planes, like the Zen monks and the aircraft carrier soldiers. Fred speaks the KVBS radio tag on Buena Vista Street, and also voices the Hunt and Peckington Typewriter ad.
Brian Nefsky completed the presentation by asking each panelist how they began their careers in voice-over work:
Philip Proctor – “When I was a baby in Goshen Indiana... my grandparents realized they were singing a lullaby to me and I hummed it back.” All his family members could sing and harmonize and they realized he had the gift to hear and repeat music. Eventually he mimicked popular comedians like Ernie Kovacs, and the skill led to him doing many voices in the Firesign Theatre.
Candi Milo – At that time she was pretty much done with the business, Candi showed up to a Tiny Toon Adventures audition in a ball gown and army boots. She had no material prepared, so the producers told her to perform a childrens story. She improvised Three Little Pigs by making the pigs suicidal and the wolf kosher. On her way out she ran into a guy in the back with a baseball cap who told her she should do this work. The gentleman was Steven Spielberg and she soon became the voice of Sweetie Pie on the show.
Allen Lulu – He had received an audition call at Margarita Mix, a sound recording studio. On walking in, he found Eddie Deezen (Kim Possible), Mitzi McCall (Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In), and Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons), and spent the rest of the recording session having a fantastic time; from then he was hooked. Allen commented, "What a treat it is to work with some of the people that you get to work with if you are fortunate enough to do this. In the booth... it's fun, it's playtime, it's a blast; you can just keep trying new things. Then they say we'll just take that little snippet right there and put that in. It's fantastic. "
Bob Joles – Bob got his start performing at Epcot as a tuba player in the Maple Leaf Brass. After five years he transitioned to the music library and picked up a new book from Susan Blu (Word of Mouth) about breaking into commercial voice-over. He confided his interest to his friend Dennis Moore who was the morning classical host on public radio, and Dennis was able to get him recording time to produce a short audition tape. Shopping the tape around, Bob got voice-over work immediately, and was eventually introduced to voice-over agent Don Pitts in Los Angeles.
Tim Blaney – Tim studied Fine Art in Los Angeles, and had a summer job doing puppets in Laguna Beach for legendary puppeteer Tony Urbano. Tony heard him doing voices backstage, which led to a commercial puppeteer job for a bank in Arizona... and then his work for the past 25 years.
Fred Tatasciore – Fred was inspired by hearing Paul Frees in the Haunted Mansion, and pursued the craft making tapes; performing in stand-up comedy, improv, and theater; working as an animator; and voicing other animators' work. Eventually he met agent Don Pitts, and his career blossomed.
Listening to these voice-over actors perform and talk about their careers was a blast. The "Broadcasts from Buena Vista Street" session was one of many special treats found at the D23 Expo. Here below is the entire panel discussion (running time just over 40 minutes), so you can enjoy hearing (and seeing) these talented performers share their craft.
Host Brian Nefsky, show writer Dave Fisher and voice-over panelists Fred Tatasciore, Allen Lulu, Philip Proctor, Bob Joles, Candi Milo, and Tim Blaney discuss voice-over acting and the voices of Buena Vista Street. MousePlanet Video.