Jesus-fun & snazzy tunes = Altar Boyz
Song-&-dance sells swell! Why else would Arts Club produce four consecutive musical comedies in as many months ? Number three is a re-mount of its popular 2009 hit Altar Boyz @ the ACT Review stage on G.I. that opens July 5th.
The show features a Christian boy band with singers Matthew, Mark, Luke, Juan (and Abraham, a token Jew). Possibly tough for me on two counts.
I used to call the Backstreet Boys the “Barf Street Boys”. The boyband 'N Sync I called “I’m Sick”. Both in respect of their tunes. As for the evangelical bent, I've always had lots of time for Jesus.edu – still do! – but have lost any communion with Christ.org in recent years for reasons that are countable in denominations. Not a story to bore you with any further.
Here's the conceit of Altar Boyz : the lads have come to New York City on a final “conversion” tour called Raise the Praise. Central to their show is a technogizmo called the Sony Sensor DX-12 that counts down the remaining souls in the audience (you) who are as yet unsaved to Christ. Zero is the number they’re gunning for by show’s end, of course. (That Muslims and Sikhs might not relate is not the point. Because this isn’t about p.c. It's about butts in the seats in summer from the target audience, primarily Anglo. Which on the $$$ barometer for a non-profit theatre company in a recession is quite defensible, too.)
The blurbs promise lots of personal revelations; the customary metro-sexual schticks; a dozen solo and harmonized songs by the five “bro”; a big wink at the Jesus-messages; plus all the choreography, dance and clever patter that typically go with this kind of stuff-&-nonsense. Many have called the production “more concert than play”, which I take less as criticism than as advice to theatre fans.
So, a few skepticisms front-&-centre. Fact is, however, the show ran for years in New York. It was a crowd favourite both there and when it played in Vancouver in 2009 : overall, the majority of reviewers were borderline rapturous.
For me, we shall see. Whether I’m “baptized” by Director Bill Millerd’s 2012 Boyz or not I’ll know on opening night July 11th, my review to come on the 15th.