Shakespeare meets ‘The Simpsons’ in Rick Miller’s storied stage show ‘MacHomer’
Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
Few entertainers can boast that they’ve performed the same one-man show 850 times.
Rick Miller is one of them.
What started as a joke backstage as a cast member in a production of Macbeth has taken Miller across the globe and onto some of the world’s most famous stages.
What exactly does Miller do, you ask? Simple: he re-enacts one of Shakespeare’s most revered works in the most diluted way he can — playing the entire cast of The Simpsons.
From Homer Simpson to Krusty the Clown, Miller bends and breaks his voice to accommodate Shakespeare’s five-act work with a variety of Simpson characters — both popular and obscure.
While the show has garnered Miller worldwide acclaim and a bevy of fans, the Canadian comedian is hanging up his Macbeth-turned-The Simpsons hat shortly after Thursday’s performance at the Winspear Opera House.
“There are a lot of reasons I’m doing this,” Miller said over the phone from his home in Toronto. “I’m on the road a little too often for my family and I think it really takes a toll. I’ve been doing it for a long time. I just have so many other projects that I need to be involved with.”
The beginnings of MacHomer are humble and can be traced back to Miller’s time as an amateur actor. To let loose after a long week of performances, Miller would joke with fellow actors and perform Macbeth, or whatever other work her deemed fit, in the now-iconic variety of voices found on The Simpsons.
Word spread about Miller’s talents and before he knew, Miller found himself on stage performing the bit. As the show’s popularity grew, the actor became increasingly worried that Fox and The Simpsons would try to stomp the show out for copyright infringement.
In fact, the response was quite the opposite.
“I called Fox during the beginning of the show and they were like ‘Go ahead Canadian boy,’ and I kept doing the show and it kept getting bigger and bigger and they were nice enough to continue to let me use their characters,” Miller said.
Miller’s MacHomer popularity is undeniable. As more and more people experienced the show, audience members, some of them educators, saw more than just entertainment value in his product. Today, Miller’s MacHomer is used in schools across the continent to teach high school students Shakespeare’s stapled works.
“Both Shakespeare and The Simpsons, in a way, acted as a mirror to society and I think there’s a lot to learn from that,” Miller said. “Let’s be honest, high school students hate Shakespeare and if I’m making that learning more experience more enjoyable for them, I can’t complain.”
Miller claims that his favorite cast member to imitate is Mr. Burns, the series’ super rich villain. While characters like Krusty the Clown can strain Miller’s throat, one character in particular is a challenge for Miller.
“Bart is tough,” Miller said. “I try to keep Bart’s time in the show to a minimum, I know how much I can abuse my voice. I can only do MacHomer for a couple weeks at a time.”
With two kids at home, Miller is excited to spend more time with the family. However, that doesn’t mean he’s not a busy man. In fact, Miller has multiple projects in the works that span from the stage, to television and even the silver screen.
While Miller left the idea of returning to MacHomer in the air, the actor is optimistic when ending the show that made his career.
“After 850 performances, this is pretty much it,” Miller said. “It’s gonna be a crazy seventy minutes.”
Catch Miller in one of his last performances of MacHomer on Nov. 15 at the Winspear Opera House at 8 p.m.