Bart Does the Bard
The mere notion that The Simpsons and William Shakespeare have a lot in common is enough to make your average high school drama teacher let out a derisive "D'oh!" But once you get past the obvious disparities, thou shalt see that many of the characteristics that made the Bard so popular in his time have helped The Simpsons become the longest-running animated series in television history. Both have an appeal that cuts across age groups, class, education, and economic background -- and a penchant for slyly satirizing popular culture. So it's not unpossible (as Ralph Wiggam would say) to see what Rick Miller was thinking when he decided to merge Homer Simpson's sensibility and Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth into his hilariously schizophrenic one-man performance, MacHomer.
Imagine that Robin Williams and Jim Carey spawned a love child that did one hell of a Waylon Smithers impression and you get a good idea of Miller's act. The show is fast-paced, with Miller acting the entire play by himself while inhabiting the voices of 60 Simpson characters. By Miller's estimation, the play retains about 85 percent Shakespeare -- though cleverly butchered to include other pop references and asides that fans of the show will appreciate.
What started as a backstage joke over a decade ago (while Miller toiled in the minor role of "Murderer No. 2" in a more traditional interpretation of the play) eventually led to a full stage production in 1996. Now, nearly nine years later, Miller has performed to sold-out venues in England, Australia, and the States. The show has drawn praise from both Simpsons fans and Shakespeare buffs. It's also gotten favorable reviews from The Simpsons cast; its creator, Matt Groening; and, maybe more surprisingly, many Shakespearean scholars.
Miller brings the MacHomer experience to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale, at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 3. Tickets cost $27. Call 954-462-0222, or visit www.browardcenter.org.
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