Do not leave at the conclusion of Rick Miller’s “MacHomer,” presented by California Shakespeare Theater. The best is yet to come.
In his 75-minute one-man show, which combines “Macbeth” with “The Simpsons,” Miller gives voice to a hundred characters. Yet afterward, he launches into an astonishing riff. In less than 10 minutes, he goes through imitations of 25 famous singers — from Bob Dylan to Andrea Bocelli — with just a few notes from each, hitting pitch-perfect notes and characterization. It’s hilarious.
The show doesn’t quite reach the same level. The idea is great: Homer is Macbeth, Marge is Lady Macbeth, Bible-thumping Ned Flanders is Banquo, three well-known “Simpsons” sidekicks are the Weird Sisters, and so on.
A dozen years ago, Miller played Murderer No. 2 in a touring production of the Shakespeare play, and as he later said, the idea was born while waiting endlessly backstage for his brief appearance: “What if one dysfunctional family does another?”
Yet after the gestation, development and years of touring “MacHomer,” what’s still missing from the show is Hamlet’s “the play’s the thing.”
It’s an often funny, entertaining series of vaguely related sketches, held together only by the performer, not the material.
Perform he does, in a marathon: Miller proclaims, declaims, dances, live and from a video, not letting up for a second.
Some voice characterizations are priceless, the best is Marge. Miller invokes both the nice-Marge and the exasperated one, the latter totally appropriate as the murderous Lady Macbeth.
Montgomery Burns-as-Duncan and Smithers-as-Malcolm are excellent. Sideshow Bob, Itchy and Scratchy, Apu, Krusty, Milhouse, Chief Wiggum and others all march by victoriously.
There are some misses — unlike in the flawless 25-singers afterward — especially and surprisingly Miller’s Homer characterization. He just doesn’t sound like our man in all his glory. Bart makes only one brief, weak appearance.
Another curious failing is the imitation of Ken Brockman, Springfield’s pompous TV news anchor, which would seem less difficult than others Miller handles with ease. Lisa has some good lines, but the voice isn’t quite right.
Again, weak spots could be overlooked if the whole ended up greater than the parts.
A warning: “MacHomer” won’t likely speak to those who aren’t “Simpsons” maniacs, or at least familiar with the characters. Conversely, those “d’oh!” people shouldn’t miss it.
Presented by California Shakespeare Theater
Where: Bruns Memorial Amphitheater, 100 Gateway Blvd., Orinda
When: 8 p.m. today; 8 and 10:30 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $30 to $40
Contact: (510) 548-9666, www.calshakes.org