Something completely different is all well and good, but for Monty Python
fans, there are few greater joys than hearing even for the umpteenth time a rousing live rendition of the troupe's adopted theme, "The Liberty Bell" march, or singing along to a bagpipes-enhanced "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" and "The Lumberjack Song." These pleasures frame Eric Idle and John Du Prez's 2007 comic "baroque and roll" oratorio inspired by Monty Python's Life of Brian
. "Chaos and Confusion" (from the opening movement of the same name) reign in the first quarter hour, but things pick up once the hapless Brian Cohen (William Ferguson) enters the picture. For the uninitiated: "He's not the chosen one / Not the hero of his race / He's just a wrong man at the wrong time in the wrong place." The oratorio's best bits are lifted from the film, particularly "What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us," "The People's Front of Judea," and "Individuals," in which Brian tries to persuade his eager would-be followers that he is not the Messiah. Some of the jokes are inspired ("Is it A.D. yet?" "About a quarter to"). Others are nudge-nudge, say-no-more groan-worthy ("She was great with child / And not too bad without"). Not the Messiah
is an easy-to-Handel mad mash-up of musical styles, including gospel, Gilbert & Sullivan, doo-wop, and Bob Dylan. In their fleeting bits, fellow Pythons Terry Jones, Michael Palin, and Terry Gilliam (as well as the ever-ravishing Carol Cleveland) are given rock star welcomes. This lavish 2009 live performance at London's venerable Royal Albert Hall commemorating Python
's 40th anniversary, and featuring the not-at-all-shabby BBC Symphony and Chorus, may not have the kick or star power of Spamalot
, but it is funny enough, at times lovely enough, and above all, silly enough to take its rightful place at the Python
Round Table. --Donald Liebenson
In 1979, Monty Python’s Life of Brian turned the Biblical epic on its head. Now, the makers of SPAMALOT turn classical music on its ear! Prepare for Not the Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy) – the comedic masterpiece that combines all of the unforgettable humor of the Python’s most celebrated film with the overblown grandeur of a symphony orchestra. Don’t miss your chance to share the one-night only performance featuring a rare on-stage reunion of Python troupe members Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam.HD.