Is this a donut I see before me?
Miller is the mastermind behind “MacHomer: “The Simpsons’ Do MacBeth.” The one-man show entails 50 different Simpsons characters acting out “MacBeth” with a script that is 85 percent Shakespeare and 15 percent Matt Groenig’s “The Simpsons.”
“MacHomer” is a fast-paced adventure, fraught with sensory overload for the audience. Somehow, the one-man show takes up the entire stage. Performing at the Vilar Center is a repeat adventure for Miller, who played to a sold-out crowd last winter.
The germ of the idea sprouted at a cast party for a very serious performance of “MacBeth.” As Murderer Number Two, he had a lot of time backstage. Some might even say too much time. In an attempt to make fun of the rest of the cast, Miller performed a 10-minute shtick of “MacBeth” highlights using Simpsons characters, and one thing led to another. The show has a run time of about 90 minutes now.
“I try and get as much humor out of the tragedy as possible,” said Miller.
Homer plays MacHomer, Marge is Lady MacHomer, Mr. Burns is King Duncan and Ned Flanders plays Banquo, MacHomer’s best buddy.
“Barney plays MacDuff, who is my favorite character,” said Miller. “He’s such a pathetic character, but lovable. He has a nobility in him. There’s a tragic quality to Barney, so it’s fitting.”
According to Miller, the nature of “The Simpsons” makes them a perfect fit for Shakespeare. Though “South Park” amuses him as well, those characters are only funny because they’re shocking, and don’t have enough depth to pull of “MacBeth.”
“The two together – to me – are not as discordant as people would think. “The Simpsons’ work on a lot of levels, and one of those is the nobility quality. We care about these characters, we are party to their flaws and foibles. It’s a very emotional quality.”
He has a point. Often, the most enlightened feminist can good-naturedly laugh at Homer’s chauvinistic attitudes. In a show where nothing is sacred, there’s a distinct lack of mean-spiritedness. Fans of the show range from middle schoolers to university professors. Key to the success of “MacHomer” is Miller’s unilateral irreverence and affection for the works of both Shakespeare and Groenig.
“When Shakespeare was creating his plays, they weren’t attended by the soft seats,” said Miller. “His work was the pop culture of its time – almost the TV audience of the time. They would have preferred the irreverence of this work, as opposed to another badly acted stuffy production. It’s just the language that creates a lot of fear for people now. It’s not easy at a first listen – you have to dig in.”
Miller helps people dig in, and in the process has brought many people into the theater who otherwise wouldn’t have even entertained the notion. Sometimes, he does shows exclusively for high school students.
“Ninety percent of the time, teachers are ecstatic,” he said. “The teachers who don’t like it are the ones who don’t see any value in “The Simpsons.’ Most of them love the fact that these kids are getting “MacBeth’ despite themselves. They tell me they’ve started to read it again.”
“It’s parody,” he added. “Both Shakespeare and Matt Groenig are holding up mirrors to our society.”
Miller was able to meet the entire “Simpsons” cast in Scotland, and he described them as very generous and kind. He’s been touring this show for five years, usually to sold-out audiences of 1,000 seats and more. “MacHomer: “The Simpsons’ Do MacBeth” will be performed at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek at 7:30 p.m. Sunday and Monday. For more information or to buy tickets, call 845-TIXS or visit http://www.vilarcenter.org.
Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 949-0555 ext. 618.
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