As the famed comedy troupe prepares to launch its 10 shows at the O2, Eric Idle says last show in more than 1800 cinemas worldwide will be “saying goodbye publicly.”
John Cleese, at age 74, won’t be doing his own silly walks – “because of my various operations” – but most of the other Monty Python classic routines will be brought to life on stage starting tomorrow.
The men of Monty Python — John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin — gathered in London this morning for a press conference ahead of tomorrow night’s launch of 10 performances of what they say will be their final live production, Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five To Go.
The production’s final performance – aka The Last Night of the Pythons – will be on July 20, and it will be broadcast live into 564 cinemas in the UK and 1800 around the world, with distribution from Picturehouse Entertainment (some international broadcasts will be held after July 20). UKTV Gold will also broadcast the event in the UK; Eagle Rock holds international broadcast rights.
Idle said the event cinema release to be seen all around the world was a great gift for their final show. “I thought wouldn’t it be wonderful to put this on around the world?…you’re saying goodbye publicly with one show…The Beatles didn’t the chance to do that…so I’m very grateful.”
The event cinema release will also feed into the energy of the night. Idle added: “We can beam audiences in, it’s like the last night of the Proms, feeding it all back into the O2.”
Picturehouse says this will mark the UK’s largest event cinema release. Aubrey Powell is directing the live show, with Fiz Oliver producing.
The production will include a taped riff featuring the Rolling Stones as well as a part written for Stephen Hawking; David Walliams will host the red carpet for the final night; among many other guests still under wraps. Arlene Phillips, who worked with the Pythons on 1983’s The Meaning Of Life, is choreographing the show.
Idle, who created the musical Spamalot, has spearheaded the ‘reunion’ show, and has worked on the material (in consultation with the other Pythons) for 10 months. He said going back to the old material it held up well. “Our humour tends to be general type and funny things, it doesn’t date as fast as satire.”
The show promises to be much more than five guys standing on stage, a teaser clip showed lavish sets and dancing girls. “We’ve brought back musical review,” Idle added. But it’s nothing too diluted – “It’s pretty filthy,” he said proudly.
Gilliam added: “It’s quite extraordinary, it’s an energetic show, especially for 70-year-old men.” Palin said: “I’m quite worn out even after the first number.”
Cleese noted that Phil McIntyre Entertainments’ stage show will cost £4.5m, which means “we’re not entirely doing it for the money.”
Idle quipped that “every 33 years we’ll do it again,” with their last live show being at the Hollywood Bowl in 1980. There will be classic Python moments that have never been performed on stage before this time around– for instance the Spanish Inquisition sketch.
Cleese added: “It’s nothing like the show in 1973, it’s between a theatrical show and a rock show…and the audience is a huge element of this.”
Noting their age, and the title of the show paying tribute to the late Graham Chapman, Gilliam quipped: “I think of it as a pre-posthumous memorial service.”
Palin zinged: “Preposterous, maybe.”
As for future plans, Gilliam emphasized: “retiring from Python is not the same as retiring from life.”
For one, Terry Jones said he was planning to make a musical film, written by Meat Loaf producer Jim Steinman, based on Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite.
New tickets are being released today at 6 pm GMT for the mostly-sold out shows at London’s O2. More details are available at MontyPythonLive.com