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The Simpsons’ do Shakespeare

Maria Smith | Friday, November 5, 2004

What happens when you combine one of America’s favorite cartoon families with one of the most tortured characters in literature?That is exactly what Rick Miller wondered when he began concocting one of the most original and off-the-wall interpretations of a Shakespeare play to appear since the Bard wrote his works four centuries ago.”MacHomer,” the result of what was originally intended to be a gag at a cast party for a performance of “MacBeth” in which Miller played the illustrious part of Murderer #2, has become a sensation. Miller gives a one-man performance of the show using over 50 imitated voices from “The Simpsons,” featuring Homer as MacBeth and Marge as Lady MacBeth. His impressions branch out to other characters including Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown and actor Troy McClure. The performance remains 85 percent original Shakespeare, but still has a few added touches.”Is this a dagger I see before me? Or a pizza?” Miller asks in a famous “MacHomer” fusion.Miller wasn’t initially sure his play would make it through its first four performances at the Montreal Fringe Festival, but the show has survived and prospered. Since its conception during the summer of 1995, Miller has performed “MacHomer” for over 50,000 people around the country. Although it might seem a little bit over the line to make one of the greatest tragedies in the English language into a cartoon comedy, the new interpretation of a well-worn classic has been widely welcomed. The show has something for both “Simpsons” fans and Shakespeare aficionados, which makes up a pretty large cross-section of the country. Shakespeare critics and schoolchildren alike have loved the show.Miller is a Montreal-based actor and graduated with degrees in architecture and theater from McGill University. He is famous in many disciplines, including classical theater, musical theater, film and television. His other creations include “Into the Ring,” a two-person play based on “The Lord of the Rings,” and “Bigger Than J,” a solo exploration of Christianity.MacHomer will be performed Nov. 5 and 6 at the DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets cost $15 for students, $30 for faculty and staff and $37.50 for the general public.