The other day, I mentioned that I like to spice up whatever story du jour that I’m reading to Luke. It’s not that the stories I read him aren’t good, but they aren’t spectacular either.
Every parent has their favourite kids book too. You’ll hear it if I talk about Dr. Seuss. It’s not that Seuss is really that great, more like most books written for kids are just that bad. I’ve composed text messages that look like fine literature by comparison. Also, is it possible to read any Dr. Seuss book and not sound like Dean Martin after a few martinis?
Sometimes I wonder if other parents feel the same way I do, that we aren’t just reading to our kid, we are performing for them too. I’m not talking about complex character histories, costumes, and well defined backstories, although costumes might not be a bad idea. I’ll have to give them a shot soon. What I’m talking about is using fun voices, reading with inflection, anything to avoid being told I’m boring.
Who am I kidding? I am definitely campaigning for the Best Actor category at the Baby Oscars. Based on the competition (Bex) though, I may need to take out a full colour ad in the L.A. Times.
After the tenth time reading Luke “Winnie The Pooh”, the material was starting to get, well, annoying. So, I began to develop my own ideas for casting the characters. Now, this is all based on the six or seven passable impressions that I can do. If you ask Bex, my DeVito and my Pacino sound identical so that really takes us down to four or five voices. Please keep in mind that the talent pool is severely limited here.
Even at two months old, Luke will sit there and attentively listen to a story. Providing he doesn’t fall asleep half way through, there is a bonus that he may laugh at the appropriate points if I play my parts well enough. He may also laugh at inappropriate points in the story too, so either I am really entertaining or maybe I should rethink how I gauge his enjoyment.
Based on his engagement with the story, I feel a certain sense of responsibility to deliver a high quality performance, worthy of critic’s praise.
So, IncrediDad Theatre proudly presents the casting for “The House at Pooh Corner”. We apologize to any of Daddy’s celebrity impressions that didn’t make the cut. We encourage you to audition for tomorrow nights reading of “Curious George”.
In the role of Eeyore, I will deliver my best Sylvester Stallone. Sky’s speech pattern and, uh, rich baritone lend itself perfectly to the clinically depressed donkey. This one was an accidental but immediate hit. I did not expect the dialogue to work as well as it did with this voice.
As Rabbit, Arnold Schwarzeneggar. Who better to deliver lines such as “Argh! Get out of mah gahden Pooh Burr!” Or “It’snotaturnip.”
Al Pacino is the perfect impression to use for the high strung and nervous, Piglet. He suddenly sounds like a mobster who might crack at any moment. It also plays well in those moments when Piglet is fed up with that silly old bear’s nonsense.
For the voice of Christopher Robbin, I chose, dead comedian, Ed Wynn. While you may not remember his name, you might remember him as Uncle Albert in the Disney film “Mary Poppins”, or as the voice of the Mad Hatter in the animated feature “Alice In Wonderland”.
Finally, in the lead role of the honey loving Winnie The Pooh, I use my best impression of Bane, Tom Hardy’s villainous character from “The Dark Knight Rises”. I can’t remember how that bad idea came to fruition but I’m in too deep to quit now. This old times wrestler voice with a metallic prang has become one of Luke’s favourite voices that I do. How do I know? No matter what I say, no matter how hungry or tired he is, Bane always gets a laugh. In the Daddy world, that kind of review is worth more than any Baby Oscar.
So there you have it, a typical bedtime story session in our house. I may not win any awards for it but I do feel like I am earning the equivalent of a doctorate in Children’s Literature. Thankfully, he’ll be able to read to himself by the time we get to the Harry Potter series. I don’t think I have that many voices in me.