The first thing you should know about Altar Boyz is that it’s fun. The second thing you should know is that it’s fun. The third thing you should know is that not much else matters.
Noah Longton’s production at the Diversionary Cabaret (which means that the show is not an official Diversionary production and the bar that’s usually downstairs is in the theatre – consuming adult beverages during the show is encouraged) brings this gentle parody of a concert by a Christian boy band back to town for at least its third visit. The local cast of this version demonstrates that energy, enthusiasm, and tight dancing can overcome any number of other sins.
Originated by Gary Adler, Michael Patrick (music and lyrics) and Kevin Del Aguila (book), Altar Boyz takes the form of a 90-minute concert where the boyz sing, dance, look sexy, and sell spiritual awakening to the audience. A cute device allows the boyz (and the audience) to see how they are doing at winning over souls.
The story itself provides mostly an excuse to sing and dance. The five group members are conveniently named Matthew (Hanz Enyeart), Mark (Hunter Schwarz), Luke (Shaun Tuazon), Juan (Patrick Mayuyu) and Abraham (Nicholas Sloan). Each “boy” has a distinct personality: Matthew is the lead singer and the cute one, Mark likes to do high kicks and is devoted to Matthew, Luke fancies himself as a street punk, Juan represents ethnic diversity, and Abraham writes the lyrics for the songs. They’re backed by a four-person band (Sean Laperruque as music director and keyboards, Tony Houck on keyboards, Kevin Jones on guitar, and Charlie Weller on drums) and rock concert lighting (Michael Von Hoffman is credited as technical director).
The songs have generic names but always provide humorous twists away from what you might expect. Each boy gets a feature number, and there are several group numbers. The styles range from hi-energy pop to a little bit of funk and jazz.
What keeps the energy up is the dance numbers, cleverly choreographed by Michael Mizerany. The quality of choreographic execution by the boyz is the highlight of the show, and the moves themselves will keep smiles on faces all evening long.
The singing? Not so much. The band covers a multitude of vocal boo-boos, especially since the singing isn’t amplified (those two mics that come on stage are just props). The choral mix proved to be better than the individual solos on opening night, but I do worry about even young and energetic guys being able to perform a strenuous score twelve unamplified times in the span of eleven days (Saturday performances go up at 7 and 10pm).
Still, if it’s a good time you’re looking for, Altar Boyz is the ticket.