"Let's go ahead and get it all out now so we don't distract the performer. On the count of three give me your best Homer."
MacHomer is a great way to introduce Shakespeare's most powerfully written, concentrated tragedy to the whole family in a fun way in 60 minutes or less. You certainly can't get this on PBS, that's for sure. To top that, why not have one of the most dysfunctional families in television history, no not the Osbournes, do another from literature? Yes, nearly each of the 50+ characters from The Simpsons cartoon has been incorporated into an amazing one-man theatrical rendition of Shakespeare's MacBeth. Of course, MacBeth is played by no other than the loveable Homer J. Simpson, and Lady MacBeth is Marge Simpson. Believe it or not, but MacHomer is still 85% true to William Shakespeare's original work. They obviously didn't have Homer J. Simpson, jelly donuts, or rock and roll back in the early 1600s, so creative license was taken so that these critical characters, props and mood enhancing items were added by the theatrical genius/one-man performer known as Rick Miller.
Using "Tell-o-vision," a huge television screen to show primitive short movies and cartoon character drawings from The Simpsons, Rick Miller adds one part smoke machine, a dash of eerie purple lights and one part puppetry to cook up a fast paced, hysterical theatrical production. Rick's facial expressions, body language, and voices for 55+ characters are amazing! He's certainly quite a talented actor and has further honed his production over the last six years that MacHomer has been touring large and small theaters around the globe. His funny Simpsons characterizations really bring the single-minded Homer Simpson as MacHomer to life, as with Moe the evil bartender, the ever-cheesy Troy McClure, and the disgruntled Krusty the Klown, among other wacky characters added in for fun.
A modern MacBeth interpretation calls for rock and roll, Wrestlemania, and other pop culture and media icons to be incorporated into a very well crafted, well directed and fast paced two-act play. Don't plan on commercials to grab an icy cold MacDuff and some greasy pork rinds since there's no intermission between the two acts. I won't ruin the climactic plot by giving you a step-by-step explanation, since that's what Cliff's Notes are for. You know, currently it's called theatrical preparation whereas it used to be mandatory for English Literature class in high school.
After the dramatic conclusion of MacHomer, the crowd is further amazed as Rick Miller serenades the audience with, 'We are the World' sung by the voices from The Simpsons. Then he sang his big finale, 'Bohemian Rhapsody' by Queen. As you would expect from this atypical theatrical production, this version is also not like the original either. Rick sings this song as a benefit for Sally Struthers by imitating quite well many rock stars like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Elvis Costello, Willy Nelson, Neil Diamond, Aaron Neville, Meatloaf, Ozzie, Julio Iglesias, and AC/DC as they each jump in to sing a verse. He's got the rock star poses, prances, and expressions down pat. As if we didn't already think he was a talented genius who taught us that William Shakespeare can be both fun and educational at the same time. Now that certainly is an oxymoron worth noting.
What's next for Rick Miller? Check out his website and MacHomer to catch a performance as he travels round the world bringing MacHomer to a town near you. If only Rick were performing MacHomer while I was in high school, then English Literature class would have been way more interesting. Then again, he's been doing MacHomer for over six years, maybe it's time to try another Shakespearian production. Hmmm, maybe The Simpsons could do Hamlet? I'm picturing the eternally food obsessed Homer J. Simpson right now as he prepares his lines, drooling over the script mumbling, "Mmmmmmm" Hamlet?
- By Donald & Kimberly Tatera, Southern California Correspondents.