Spamalot Creators Handle "Not the Messiah" Take on "Life of Brian" for 2007 Debut

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16 Oct 2006

Spamalot creators Eric Idle and John Du Prez are mining the Monty Python catalog for more as the duo will present "Not the Messiah," a 50-minute oratorio based on the 1979 film "Life of Brian."

The commissioned work will be a part of 2007's Luminato, the Toronto Festival of Arts Culture and Creativity, at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on June 1, 2, and 4 (all at 7:30 PM) in 2007, according to a TSO spokesperson.

The world premiere of "Not the Messiah" will be conducted by TSO Music Director Peter Oundjian (who happens to be Idle's cousin). The work — which Idle states "will be funnier than Handel, though not as good" — is to be performed by a narrator, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, with guest soloists and choir.

Idle and Du Prez ("A Fish Called Wanda") co-composed the Spamalot score. Idle also provided the libretto, "lovingly ripped-off" from the screenplay of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." The screenplay was co-written with Monty Python creators Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and Michael Palin.

"I'm not sure people would allow 'The Life of Brian' on stage today," Idle previously told Playbill.com (Jan. 2005). "You think people would really have a finale where people are crucified? I'm not sure people are ready for this." He laughingly concluded "I might have to start that somewhere else other than America."



The duo are also reportedly at work on another musical comedy venture for the stage, though no details are being divulged at the moment. Idle and Du Prez were Tony Award-nominated for their score (Idle for book as well). Though they did not win in those categories, the musical itself earned the 2005 Best Musical prize.

In the aforementioned 2005 interview, Idle told Playbill.com about the possibility of further Monty Python musical theatre: "'The Meaning of Life' is a musical. If you look at that movie, it's got eight major songs in it. And I think that would kind of [work], but it doesn't have a plot. The art of that would be to see if you could find something that kept it going through, a throughline. But these takes so long that you just don't know what you might want to do next if such possibilities exist. Good properties for musicals are few and far between and it's very clear to me what might well work."

Information on Toronto's Luminato can be found on the web at www.luminato.ca.