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  • HB
  • Aug. 1, 2008
  • Tony and Grammy Award-Winning Co-Creator, John Du Prez, Conducts Los Angeles Philharmonic

    Comedic Oratorio Based on Monty Python’s Life of Brian and Handel’s Messiah Features Gifted Soloists, Pacific Chorale, Los Angeles Scots Pipe Band, some Sheep and Spectacular Fireworks Display


    Friday’s concert is a Fidelity Investments FutureStage Concert

    Media Sponsor (Saturday): KCET

    The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association presents the comedic oratorio Not the Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy) with Monty Python’s Eric Idle and co-creator John Du Prez the team that brought the wildly popular, Tony and Grammy award-winning musical, Spamalot, to Broadway and beyond. Not the Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy) is inspired by the cult-classic 1979 film Monty Python’s Life of Brian in which the main character, Brian, a first century Judean, is mistaken for the Messiah, pursued, and ultimately crucified. Only a mind from Monty Python’s Flying Circus could make such subject matter hilarious, and Idle does so, while also cleverly spoofing Handel’s famous 1741 oratorio, Messiah. Not the Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy) with Eric Idle makes its West coast debut at the Hollywood Bowl on Friday and Saturday, August 1 and 2 at 8:30 p.m.

    Not the Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy) was originally commissioned by the Luminato - Toronto Festival of the Arts and Creativity and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. The world premiere performance took place at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, Canada on June 1, 2007 and was conducted by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra Music Director, and Eric Idle’s first cousin, Maestro Peter Oundjian. The 75-minute production at the Hollywood Bowl is an extended version of the original and features the Los Angeles Philharmonic, four vocal soloists, a narrator, a choir, bagpipers, some sheep and the famous Hollywood Bowl fireworks display.

    Categorized as “baroque-n-roll,” Not the Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy) at the Hollywood Bowl incorporates practically every genre of music including pop, country, hip hop, Broadway, Welsh hymns, Greek chorus and a Bob Dylan impersonation. The comedic oratorio is described by Idle as, “shorter than Handel, funnier than Handel, but obviously not as good theologically.” The production features soon to be classics, “O God You Are So Big,” “What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us,” “Hail to the Shoe,” sung to the tune of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus, and of course, a rousing rendition of the #1 hit (of the movie) “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”

    Not the Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy) at the Hollywood Bowl features three soloists from the original production: soprano Shannon Mercer, mezzo-soprano Jean Stilwell, and baritone Theodore Baerg. Making his Naughty Boy debut is tenor William Ferguson. The performance also features creator, narrator, singer, impersonator and comedian extraordinaire, Eric Idle. The Pacific Chorale, under the direction of John Alexander, and the Los Angeles Scots Pipe Band, join the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by John Du Prez.

    ERIC IDLE has hyphenated his way through life, from being a writer-actor in the legendary Monty Python TV series; to creator-director of The Rutles; to a singer-songwriter performing rude songs at Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl. He has launched two highly successful tours of the US - Eric Idle Exploits Monty Python (2000) and The Greedy Bastard Tour (2003) - where he journeyed 15,000 miles across North America in a rock n’ roll bus. Spamalot, a theatrical version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, won him a Tony for Best Musical of 2005, and a Grammy for Best Soundtrack. Spamalot is currently on Broadway and on tour in the US, London, Las Vegas, and Melbourne. In November 2007, his play, What About Dick?, had a short try-out in LA. Not The Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy), written with John Du Prez, received its World Premiere in Toronto in June 2007 and its US Premiere in New York in July 2007.

    JOHN DU PREZ began his thirty year collaboration with Eric Idle working on the title music for Monty Python's Life of Brian. Not The Messiah brings their work full circle. Their stage musical Spamalot won them a Tony award for Best Musical and a Grammy award for Best Original Cast Album, and has just opened its fifth company in Australia with more to follow in Europe, Asia and South America. He has scored more than twenty feature films including A Fish Called Wanda, The Meaning of Life, A Private Function, Once Bitten, A Chorus of Disapproval, the cult classic UHF and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I, II & III. Other Python projects include The Contractual Obligation Album, Monty Python at the Hollywood Bowl and The Fairly Incomplete & Badly Illustrated Monty Python Song Book. He was a Trevelyan Scholar at Christ Church, Oxford.

    SHANNON MERCER is taking on the opera world as one of Canada's most promising young stars. Her voice has been described as luminous, dazzling and shining, and her acting as witty, delightful, and feisty. Opera Canada recently stated, “The finest singing came from Shannon Mercer as Altisidore. Mercer’s sparkling recitatives and effortless runs were a constant delight.” Shannon has performed with major Canadian opera companies, and made a highly acclaimed French debut with l’Opera de Montpellier in the title role of Marin Marais's Sémélé, recently released on CD. A much sought-after concert artist, she has appeared with orchestras in North America and on the recital stage in a number of Canadian cities. Her discography includes: Bach and the Liturgical Year, Mondonville with harpsichordist Luc Beauséjour and English Fancy (all with Analekta). She also starred in the comic opera Burnt Toast, now on DVD.

    JEAN STILWELL, hailed on three continents for her complex portrayal of Carmen, is at the forefront of this generation's mezzo-sopranos. Since first assuming the role in Vancouver, Bizet's fascinating gypsy has opened many doors for Ms. Stilwell and she has appeared with the Buxton Festival, New York City Opera, Welsh National Opera, English National Opera, and all the opera companies of Canada. The striking mezzo-soprano has appeared for Vancouver Opera as Amneris in Aida, Marie in Wozzeck for Pacific Opera Victoria and the premiere of Facing South with Tapestry New Opera Works. Recent seasons have also included the Beggar Woman in Sweeney Todd (Calgary Opera), Jenny in The Threepenny Opera (Vancouver Opera) and Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana (Manitoba Opera). She recently lectured and performed for the Vancouver Opera Club and launched a new CD, Carmen Unzipped, with pianist Patti Loach. Ms. Stilwell can be heard daily in Toronto on Classical 96.3 FM’s Good Day GTA with co-host Mike Duncan. She appeared during the 2007-2008 season in the world premiere of Transit of Venus by Victor Davies for Manitoba Opera, and in 2008-2009 sings the role of Peronskaya in Prokofiev’s War & Peace with the Canadian Opera Company.

    WILLIAM FERGUSON holds a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s of Music degree from The Juilliard School. His numerous awards include the Alice Tully Vocal Arts Debut Recital Award. Mr. Ferguson has appeared with Orchestra of St. Luke’s, American Symphony Orchestra, Opera Orchestra of New York, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Richmond Symphony, 92nd Street Y, Young Concert Artists, Delaware Master Chamber Series, Clarksville Community Concerts, the New York Festival of Song, Marilyn Horne Foundation Recital Series, New York City Opera, Tanglewood Music Center, Opera Omaha, Santa Fe Opera and Opera Australia.

    THEODORE BAERG has enjoyed a critically acclaimed opera and concert career with appearances in North America, Europe and Asia. He started his career with the renowned Stratford Festival and returned for the 2006-2007 season with a sensational run as Emile de Becque in South Pacific. He has appeared in leading operatic roles across North America. His concert appearances have included orchestras from Halifax to Vancouver, and from the New York Philharmonic to the Dallas Symphony. His repertoire includes more than 75 operatic/musical theatre roles ranging from Germont in La Traviata, to the title role in Alban Berg’s Wozzeck, and from Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus to Hajj in Kismet. Ted was thrilled to be part of the world premiere performances of Eric Idle and John Du Prez’ Not the Messiah in 2007 and looks forward to many more. Mr. Baerg is a professor of voice, opera and music theatre at The University of Western Ontario where he produces and directs the opera and musical theatre program.

    Founded in 1968 and comprised of 140 professional and volunteer singers, PACIFIC CHORALE is internationally recognized for exceptional artistic expression, stimulating American-focused programming, and influential education programs. Pacific Chorale presents a substantial performance season of its own at the Orange County Performing Arts Center and is sought regularly to perform with the nation’s leading symphonies. In addition to its long-standing partnership with Pacific Symphony, the Chorale has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Disney Hall on numerous occasions. Other noted collaborations include the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the Boston Symphony, the National Symphony, and the Long Beach, Pasadena, Riverside and San Diego symphonies. Under the inspired guidance of Artistic Director John Alexander, Pacific Chorale has infused an Old World art form with California’s hallmark innovation and cultural independence.

    Artistic Director of Pacific Chorale since 1972, JOHN ALEXANDER is one of America’s most respected choral conductors. His inspired leadership both on the podium and as an advocate for the advancement of the choral art has garnered national and international admiration and acclaim. Alexander’s long and distinguished career has encompassed conducting hundreds of choral and orchestral performances in 27 countries around the globe. He is also renowned for his superb preparation of choruses for performances with the world’s leading conductors, including Zubin Mehta, Pierre Boulez, Seiji Ozawa, Michael Tilson Thomas, Leonard Slatkin, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Gustavo Dudamel, Lukas Foss, Max Rudolf, Carl St.Clair, Gerard Schwarz, Marin Alsop, John Mauceri, John Williams, and Keith Lockhart. His numerous tributes and awards include The Helena Modjeska Cultural Legacy Award (2003), presented in honor of his lifetime achievement as an artistic visionary in the development of the arts in Orange County.

    THE LOS ANGELES SCOTS PIPE BAND (L.A. Scots) was first formed in 1961. The band competed successfully throughout the 60s and early 70s, and was recognized for its excellent, innovative music and playing ability. In 1990, the band was revitalized from the nucleus of the Beach Cities Pipe Band and the Scottish Heritage Pipe band. The band was reformed from the sons of the old L.A. Scots and several members of the original L.A. Scots Junior Band. The band is currently under the direction of Pipe Major Scott MacDonald who took over the band in 1992. The Drum section is under the direction of Andrew Brubaker. The band now competes in Grade One after winning the World Grade 2 Pipe Championships in Glasgow, Scotland in 1997. Since then, the band has placed as high as 11th place in World Grade One, something no other U.S. pipe band has done. The band’s debut release, At the Beach, has been met by popular and critical acclaim. The band has also has performed and recorded with Rod Stewart and Mike Oldfield (Tubular Bells), among others. The L.A. Scots have performed in Canada, Scotland, Ireland and France, and are scheduled to play in New Zealand, Italy and Taiwan.

    One of the largest natural amphitheaters in the world, with a seating capacity of nearly 18,000, the HOLLYWOOD BOWL has been the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since its official opening in 1922, and in 1991 gave its name to the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, a resident ensemble that has filled a special niche in the musical life of Southern California. The 2004 season introduced audiences to a revitalized Hollywood Bowl, featuring a newly constructed shell and stage and the addition of four stadium screens enhancing stage views in the venue. To this day, $1 buys a seat at the top of the Bowl for many of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's concerts. While the Bowl is best known for its sizzling summer nights, during the day California's youngest patrons enjoy "SummerSounds: Music for Kids at the Hollywood Bowl," the Southland's most popular summer arts festival for children, now in its 40th season. Attendance figures over the past several decades have soared: in 1980 the Bowl first topped the half-million mark and close to one million admissions have been recorded. In February 2008, the Hollywood Bowl was named Best Major Outdoor Concert Venue for the fourth year in a row at the 19th Annual Pollstar Concert Industry Awards. The Bowl's summer music festival has become as much a part of a Southern California summer as beaches and barbecues, the Dodgers, and Disneyland.


    AUGUST 1 & 2, 2008 at 8:30 PM

    HOLLYWOOD BOWL, 2301 N. Highland Ave. in Hollywood



    Eric Idle

    John Du Prez

    Shannon Mercer

    Jean Stilwell

    William Ferguson

    Theodore Baerg

    Pacific Chorale, John Alexander, Director

    Los Angeles Scots Pipe Band

    Friday’s concert is a Fidelity Investments FutureStage Concert

    Media Sponsor (Saturday): KCET

    Tickets ($10 - $114) are on sale now at, at the Hollywood Bowl Box Office (Tuesday–Sunday, noon–6 p.m.), by phone 323.850.2000 or by calling Ticketmaster at 213.480.3232, and at all Ticketmaster outlets. Groups of 10 or more may be eligible for a 20% discount, subject to availability; call 323.850.2050 for further details.

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  • Contact:

    Adam Crane,, 213.972.3034; Lisa Bellamore,, 213.972.3689; Laura Cohen,, 310.867.3897; For photos: 213.972.3034