Idle’s Not The Messiah (He’s A Very Naughty Boy)

Reporter: Caroline Bishop, first published Mon 06 Jul 2009 11:40

The Royal Albert Hall will help celebrate 40 years of Monty Python with a one-off performance of Eric Idle and John Du Prez’s Not The Messiah (He’s A Very Naughty Boy) on 23 October.

Fellow Pythons Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam will join Idle on stage for this comic oratorio based on their hit 1979 film Life Of Brian, which tells the story of reluctant revolutionary Brian, who is mistaken for the Messiah and condemned to die on the cross.

Idle and Du Prez’s stage version, which premiered in Toronto in 2007, is described as “baroque ‘n’ roll” and features a full orchestra, choir, bagpipers and classical soloists performing a score that includes Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, the famous song from the film which became a chart hit for Idle in the 1990s.

Palin, as Mrs Betty Parkinson, will host the evening, with Idle reprising some of the best-loved roles from the film, including Mr Cheeky and Stan (aka Loretta). Carol Cleveland and Neil Innes, who also appeared in Life Of Brian, will take to the stage alongside Jones, Gilliam and a cast that includes William Ferguson (Brian), Shannon Mercer (Judith), Rosalind Plowright (Mandy) and Christopher Purves (Reg).

A defining programme in the history of British comedy, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, written by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Gilliam, Jones, Idle and Palin, first aired on the BBC in October 1969 and ran until 1974. Its huge success led to the hit films Monty Python And The Holy Grail, The Meaning Of Life and Life Of Brian.

Du Prez – whose long association with the Pythons began when he composed the music for Life Of Brian – went on to write the scores for more than 20 feature films, including Cleese’s A Fish Called Wanda, and teamed up with Idle to create Monty Python’s Spamalot, the Tony Award-winning stage musical based on Monty Python And The Holy Grail which played at London’s Palace theatre for two years.

The Monty Python 40th birthday celebrations also include events in New York and Los Angeles, a documentary series and the publication of a new book.