London’s Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
26 February-23 March, 1974
Instead of the hardships and frivolity of touring, the Python’s West End stint meant they’d simply be commuting every night from home to the same stage where Lerner & Loewe’s “Camelot” had opened a decade earlier. “The Drury Lane run was the nearest most of us ever got to having a proper job,” said Terry Jones. “It was initially a nerve-wracking proposition, but at the same time it was somehow reassuring to find ourselves part of the ‘theatrical establishment’ even if it was an illusion.”
The show was such a success the initial two-week engagement at the 2,200-seat house was extended to four weeks.
On With The Show
With the Pantomime Princess Margaret watching from a box above the stage, and Eric Idle’s then-wife Lyn Ashley filling in for Carol Cleveland, the show included the “Silly Party Elections Special” sketch, in which Neil Innes’ impromptu rendition of “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” was a musical highlight (and consequently necessitating royalty payments from the show’s recording).
Other sketches included: Llamas, Gumby Flower Arrangement, Secret Service, Solo Wrestling, World Forum, Albatross/The Colonel, Nudge Nudge, Cocktail Bar, Travel Agency, Michael Miles Quiz Show, the Bruces, Argument Clinic, Four Yorkshiremen, Dead Parrot, “The Lumberjack Song,” and Innes’ “How Sweet to Be an Idiot.”
In “Monty Python Live!” (the book about the Python’s live shows to 1980), Idle recalled, “The hardest part of the show was having to host the hundreds of people who insisted on coming backstage afterwards to your dressing room demanding free drinks and a chance to stare at you changing.”