Larry Pontius | Jun 22, 2012
You have heard Bill Ratner’s voice before. Somewhere. Some time. You have heard it. For me, he is a voice from my childhood. He was the voice of Flint, one of the leaders of GI Joe (and to be frank, far cooler than Duke.) So, at first, it was hard for me to shake those memories. But once I did, once I was able to stop thinking, “Hey, that guy sounds like Flint…” I was able to really listen to a very moving, very personal story told by a master storyteller.
Voices in My Head traces Ratner’s life story from childhood, through his first contact (and falling in love with) TV and radio, several family tragedies to where he is today. All too often, autobiography on stage turns into navel gazing, a sort of wallowing in tragedy, but it doesn’t happen here. Ratner takes us through a story that could be overwhelming, that could turn maudlin, but keeps it afloat with humor, wry observation and an eye for detail. The story keeps moving forward and never flags.
One of my favorite moments in the piece is Ratner’s childhood memory of discovering the TV and how important those characters, those voices were… and when one of them disappears… I could identify… (And his father’s well observed fact about TV… true and delightful.)
Occasionally, the story breaks and Ratner sings, with accompanied on a bluesy guitar played by Vince White, the songs are more poems reflecting on a moment in the story. Ratner has a beautiful heartfelt voice.
In the end, the best part of the show is getting to know Ratner, and that’s what it feels like. I felt like I was seeing and hearing a real person on stage, talking to me like I was across the table from him. We are taken through moments of real sadness, and brought safely and more whole on the other side. If I had any complaint, the show ends before I wanted it to.
Catch Bill Ratner Live as THAT’S VOICEOVER! – CHICAGO – AUGUST 25, 2012 at the Harris Theater. Tickets On Sale Now.