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Monty Python stars to stage reunion

Monty Python stars are to stage a major reunion for the first time in more than a decade to mark the show's 40th anniversary, it was announced today.

Four of the main six stars - including Michael Palin and Eric Idle - will be taking part in the musical adaptation of Life Of Brian, called Not The Messiah (He's a Very Naughty Boy).

However John Cleese is unable to attend the European premiere of the show at the Royal Albert Hall on October 23. The sixth member of the team, Graham Chapman, died in 1989.

The show is billed as "a comedic oratorio based on Monty Python's Life of Brian". The hit Broadway and West End show Spamalot was similarly based on the team's Holy Grail film.

Idle, who stars in the production which he co-wrote with composer John Du Prez, said: "It is rare you get to be silly on a mass scale. It ranges in reference from Handel, through a naughty Mozart duet, to the Festival of Nine Carols, Bob Dylan, and the classic finale Always Look On The Bright Side of Life."

Not The Messiah features guest appearances from Palin together with other original Pythons Terry Jones and film director Terry Gilliam. Carol Cleveland, another regular from the TV series, is also to appear, together with songwriter Neil Innes.

Idle, Palin, Jones and Gilliam made a brief appearance together to sing at George Harrison's memorial concert in 2002. Prior to that the group plus Cleese had performed for an on-stage interview together in 1998, and filmed new sketches for a BBC special in 1999, although they were not together at the same time.

A six-part documentary series, Monty Python: Almost The Truth (The Lawyer's Cut), has also been created to celebrate the 40th anniversary which will be screened in the US and then released on DVD.

Jones said of the series: "This is a documentary I always hoped that would be made - something so complete and so faithful to the truth that I don't need to watch it."