I was happy that Long Wharf Theatre was presenting Altar Boyz all this summer and looked forward to seeing it. I had not had a chance to attend the production in NY, although several seasons ago, it won the Outer Critics Circle award for best Off Broadway musical, and it is in fact still playing at New World Stages.
Conceived by Mark Kessler and Ken Davenport with a Book by Kevin Del Aguila and Music & Lyrics by Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker, it supposed to be a spoof of Christian Boys Bands. The score is rock and roll; the aerobic choreography is by Christopher Gatelli, who is responsible for the wonderful dancing in South Pacific. The Director is Stafford Arima, who did the same for the original production.
Four young men with names like Matthew, Mark, Luke, Juan sing and jump all over the set like Mexican Jumping Beans on a platform designed by David Korin and blackly lit by Jeremy Rolls. The fifth member is Abraham, the only Jew; I have no idea why he would be part of this, but he is well-played by Tim Dolan. The audience this past Wednesday evening, July 30, was sparse, mostly made up of women, who seemed to come from one group, and seemed to know each other and the material. They laughed uproariously at the antics on stage, which did not seem the least bit funny.
The noise level for each number was quite deafening, thus my companion and I could not understand most of the words. The essence of the piece was that these young men wanted to save our souls and had a meter hooked up to measure their success. They ended up trying to save their own souls, which they confessed had been compromised.
The only redeemable thing about Altar Boyz is that is keeps 5 young men and 4 musicians employed. It will play through Sept. 13. ###
This review originally aired on WMNR Fine Arts radio.