There are those who will greedily gulp down any Monty Python-derived property, however “lovingly ripped off.” And there are those who make a point of seeing each and every oratorio that hits the stage. (This latter group is identifiable by their powdered wigs and ultrahip knee-breeches.) Eric Idle, the retired Python troupe’s de facto Barnum, is set to merge these groups into one massive fanbase: Get ready for Not the Messiah, a Handel-esque take on The Life of Brian.
The oratorio (like an opera, only less theatrical and heathenish) will open not on Broadway, beside Idle’s smash Spamalot, but at a festival in Toronto. (As Idle himself has noted, America’s not the safest place to end a musical with a crucifixion.) So we can’t quite accuse Idle of pimping out yet another Python treasure with limited comic results… yet.
Yeah, I’m one of those curmudgeons who found Spamalot a little weak, overall. And an oratorio, with its limited staging, will put the onus squarely on Idle’s lyrics – which, in my opinion, lack a certain killer-rabbit swiftness. Does that mean I’m not curious? Course not. I’ve got my knee-breeches on already. Not that I ever really take them off.