Picture this: Homer kills Burns and becomes King of Scotland, Marge falls prey to fits of sleepwalking, and Flanders finally gets the ax at the hands of Otto, Apu and Grandpa Simpson. Bart escapes an ambush and Smithers triumphantly returns in the end to reclaim the throne from a beheaded Homer.
MacHomer, now in its 13th year of production, is Rick Miller's frenzied, one-man re-creation of Shakespeare's Macbeth. The show, complete with lights, music and video, is driven by what Miller calls his "flexible voice," which he uses to impersonate all 50 Simpsons characters in the place of Banquo, Macduff and the like.
"It feels a bit like a Simpsons' Halloween episode," says Miller. "Things are taken out of context, you jump around in the story, and people kill each other."
Trained in trades from architecture to painting, Miller is not a professional impersonator but claims he can do most male and many female voices, given enough time. (Happy to display this prowess, Miller, unprompted, gave me a convincing Krusty the Clown, several "Homerisms" and Mr. Burns during our interview.)
The idea for the show, born during Miller's hours backstage as Murderer 2 in a different production of Macbeth, has slowly evolved from a simple stand-up sketch to a full-fledged play with almost nightly renditions that weave in local references and pop-culture developments.
The play, showing Nov. 4 through 8 at UCCS' TheatreWorks, has toured 150 cities in six countries. Miller attributes its success largely to the way The Simpsons can "tap into people's emotions." Of all the sitcom cartoons, he believes that Homer and the rest, despite — or maybe because of — all their faults, "have more heart to them."
"They are tragic and noble and you actually care about them in a way that is different than you do about the Family Guy characters," Miller says.
And after 20 years, the "personability" of the yellow cartoons still captivates all sorts of audiences. This month, Playboy featured Marge on the cover, teasing a full-feature centerfold of the blue-haired mother of three.
"I've always said that she's got repressed housewife syndrome," says Miller with a laugh. "I think casting her as Lady Macbeth gives her a chance, just like the Playboy spreads, to show a different side."
Miller's show retains about 80 percent of Shakespeare's script, with Simpsons jokes sprinkled throughout. The familiarity of some Simpsons classics, he says, makes an oft-difficult text more accessible: "It's bringing it to a level of pop culture that Shakespeare used to be at. He used to be able to appeal not only to the nobility, but also the masses, to the TV-watching audience of the time."
In this way, Miller thinks his show "breaks open the barriers people put in front of language they don't quite understand." But don't misunderstand: "This show is really just to make people laugh."
It is after all, The Simpsons.