Saying James Arnold Taylor is a man of many voices is like saying the beach is a place of many sand grains. His IMDB Profile lists 165 title credits, most since the year 2000. On almost all of those, he is listed for more than one voice, with no less than 25 different characters voiced on Star Wars: The Clone Wars alone - and that's just what he's credited for.
At Star Wars Celebration VI in Orlando Saturday night, Taylor took to the main stage to show off those myriad voices, and talk about what it's like to be a voice actor. In a breathless hour long production, the actor used about 200 voices, from famous characters to celebrity impersonations, wowing the capacity crowd for his one man show, "Talking to Myself."
The show on its own was incredible. Entertaining from start to finish, Taylor had the audience rapt while he used his announcer voice, had actual moments of "Talking To Himself" where he had conversations with a pre-recorded Obi-Wan Kenobi, his main character on Clone Wars, animated sequences where he voiced multiple characters, and even a ten minute segment where he voiced more than 150 characters in one extended go.
Highlights of the show brought lots of laughs, like the scene that mirrored the confrontation from the climax of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Instead of Obi-Wan and Anakin Skywalker (the newly branded Darth Vader), however, Taylor's version had Obi-Wan and Fred Flintstone, as they jockeyed for position within his own brain. A "vocal map" showing how close many voices are to one another and how he links them with his own was a truly incredible feat. As the map slid from person to character, showing how Christopher Walken links to Marty McFly in 40 easy steps, Taylor was spot-on with every single one. After the show, he told Newsarama he "walked off stage and suddenly remembered a few more. [He] thought "how could I have forgotten those?"," so perhaps there's room for more in a future version.
Perhaps the most amazing part of the show, however, wasn't the multiple voices or the hilarious sketches. The humble and inspirational nature of James Arnold Taylor may be the one thing that can clearly eclipse his talent.
Taylor openly spoke of growing up without a father, of being the scrawny kid with an impossible dream. He talked about how much hard work voice acting truly takes, and how he had to build his career and his voice twice due to a toxic mold infestation that nearly took his vocal talent from him completely. More over, he focused on the fact that anyone and everyone should follow any dream they have. Whether aged 10 or 60, it's hard to think that any one of those audience members walked out of that theater uninspired, and with any thought in their heads other than the dreams they need to get back to pursuing.
James Arnold Taylor's one man show was fantastic and exciting, but his message was even more important. And this was on what he self-proclaimed an "off day" for his voice, thanks in no small part to his hosting the main stage's events over the course of the weekend. He plans to perform the show again in the future, having done thirty minute versions at Disney's Star Wars Weekends in May 2012, and this is a show that should never be missed if you have the opportunity.
More Star Wars Celebration VI at Newsarama: