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The Simpsons Come Alive for a Stage Show

Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart and Maggie, the dysfunctional Simpson family from the mythical town of Springfield, are coming to Britain and have already taken their first venue by storm.
A rare stage appearance by the characters responsible for the voices of The Simpsons became the fastest selling show in the history of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe when the tickets sold in 55 minutes.

Matt Groening, the creator of what Time magazine called “the greatest television landmark of the 20th century”, spoke at the Television Festival last year and promised to return after falling in love with the city while “doing haggis and beer”.

He is coming back earlier than expected with three performances, including two in London, of a show premiered in Aspen, Colorado, earlier this year.

Groening, 45, who named the characters after members of his own family, including his father Homer, will appear on stage to introduce clips from the cartoon, before the cast, sitting on bar stools, perform a classic episode.

A spokesman for the show, which will also bring the American animators and producers to Britain, said it was “just actors sitting around reading”, but the atmosphere was “electric”.

He added: “This is only the second time the actors have stood on a stage in front of their public, and seeing Nancy Cartwright, a little, middle-aged, motherly-looking lady speaking the voice of Bart Simpson is absolutely riveting.

“The crowd really packed the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen, and there were hundreds of people outside clamouring for tickets. The highlight for me was seeing Hank Azaria playing three characters arguing all at the same time.”

The audience will see Dan Castellenata as Homer – catchprase “Doh” – Nancy Cartwright as Bart, Yeardley Smith as Bart’s smart sister Lisa, Hank Azaria as the bartender Moe and Julie Kavner as the blue-haired mother Marge.

After the Aspen show, Azaria said: “It’s not really difficult to go from one voice into the next. It’s like asking you to sing a line of Happy Birthday and then Goodnight Irene – assuming you know the words to both those songs.”

The Simpsons began as a short on The Tracey Ullmann Show in 1987 and when it first appeared in its own right on the American Fox Network in 1990 moral crusaders – with dramatic understatement – complained that Bart, Homer’s son, was an “under-achiever”.

George Bush used the anarchic cartoon as an example of what was wrong with American family values and said people should aspire to be more like The Waltons.

Since then, it has been celebrated for its hilarious, often heart warming and all-embracing examination of the human condition through politics, religion, racism, love, sex, death and other important matters.

It first appeared on Sky Television in Britain in 1990 and is studied in English and Scottish university courses for its literary style.

Homer, whose passions are beer, doughnuts and television, was described recently as a “TV-obsessed Candide stumbling into a bright new future without a clue”.

And the yellow family – the colour was chosen to make them instantly recognisable to the channel surfers flicking through the stations – has brought its creator dozens of awards.

The Aug 14 show, which will go on to the London Playhouse for two performances, is the first sell-out at this year’s fringe, which will feature 17,000 performances.

It is being brought to the UK by Sky One to celebrate 10 years of The Simpsons.