Blend of Homer and the Bard a random mash-up

KATE SAUNDERS
Last updated 16:47 18/08/2011

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Rick Miller is proof that Shakespeare can be rowdy, irreverent and include the line "okely dokely".

The Canadian is the man behind MacHomer, the crazy show that blends the voices of 50 Simpsons characters with a performance of William Shakespeare's Macbeth.

"It's like one dysfunctional family does another and for Simpsons fans it feels a bit like a Halloween episode where all the characters are pulled out of context and are allowed to kill each other," Miller says.

The unpredictable mash-up is opening at the Taranaki International Arts Festival this weekend and may just have the Bard rolling in his grave, as Homer plays the lead and Marge tackles the role of Lady MacHomer.

Miller admits he has recently discovered a new fan group - English teachers.

"It's a great show to bring kids to if they hate Shakespeare. Most kids don't understand why they're still studying this guy who died 400 years ago," he said.

"It's not that it makes kids get it, but all the barriers they usually put up right from the start go away."

Miller said the show came about through having too much time on his hands when playing Murderer No 2 in a straight version of Macbeth.

That was 17 years ago, and the cast party joke sketch he created has evolved into a sophisticated festival show performed in more than 170 cities.

Miller said the key to keeping the well- travelled show fresh was performing it only sporadically, changing it up a little each night and appreciating that each audience was paying to see it for the first time.

"It's my duty as a performer to pull something good out - I damn well oughta not be on auto pilot for the audience," he said. "It's a great workout and it's completely insane. I can burst out with energy and stay quiet for the rest of the day."

And while there may be 50 characters in his repertoire, Miller unashamedly has a soft spot for Simpsons favourite Barney, who he says is the perfect example of the strength of the roles in the television series and the play.

"In Macbeth, even though I'm screwing round with it, you get characters like Barney who are so pathetic but you kinda love him in a way."

What Miller himself loves most is the end of the play, when he throws in a musical performance of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody in a display of "gratuitous entertainment".

However, Taranaki audiences may get something over and above even that.

"I'll probably throw a rugby joke in there. I support the All Blacks, all the way, absolutely."

MacHomer plays at the TSB Showplace this Saturday and Sunday.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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