The Moore Theatre
Runs Through February 11, 2007
Tickets and Information
No matter where you stand in the wide plethora of religious affiliations, Altar Boyz is the show to see this weekend! For those of you with Christian upbringings and Jewish backgrounds, you’ll appreciate the use of symbols, jargon, cultural references and catchy take-offs of many of the musical themes of the liturgy. For those of you without the aforementioned religious affiliations, you’ll appreciate the modern pop-culture, the amazing showmanship and simple yet mind-strikingly catchy lyrics of each and every song. For every one of all ages, the flashing lights, the pop music and the eye-catching costumes will tantalize the senses of everyone in the audience. Taken seriously enough to portray its message, yet directed toward comedy enough to find the humor in its sincerity, Altar Boyz effectively walks the line between inoffensive religious humor and a wholesome message received willingly by the audience.
Stafford Arima’s direction of Altar Boyz is a fabulous portrayal of the loosely plotted yet exceedingly attention-grabbing show. He succeeds in orchestrating a unique blend of energetic choreography and ironically overdone character acting. Writer, Kevin Del Aguila’s, stereotype play comes across to the audience through Arima’s direction in a manner that, again, is unobtrusive yet poignant in exposing the different sides of the issues that come to many minds when discussing religion in our world today.
Anna Louizos’ simple set (augmented by Natasha Katz’ pop-concert-style lighting design) is effective in evoking the boy-band pop concert feeling while elaborately allowing the orchestra room to play and the Boyz plenty of dance space. Andy Grobengieser, conductor, and the orchestra play an integral role in not only the explosive orchestration but also in the support of the Boyz and even, at times, help to advance what little plot there is. Christopher Gattelli’s choreography, which hearkens back to the 1990s boy band generation yet still has a pop-culture Broadway feel, is to be envied by all pop band dance captains. If any pop group is in need of a better choreographer, and we all know that they all are, then he’s your man!
Photo by Carol Rosegg. From Left to Right: Jesse JP Johnson, Ran J Ratliff, Matthew Buckner, Nick Blaemire , Jay Garcia
On stage, Ryan J Ratliff (Mark) shines as brightly as the Nativity star and a glamorously as one of Liza Minnelli’s Halston dresses. His comedic timing and gestural precision are wildly entertaining and had the audience buckled over with laughter at every turn. Nick Blaemire also stands out not only for his character’s singularity among the other Boyz, but also for his incredible vocal power and stylings. His use of different tonalities and vocal characterizations complimented the cast’s talents and surprising puppetry.
With a mix of fun choreography, catchy song and dance numbers and overt yet ironically comedic dealings with modern religious issues, Altar Boyz is a great show for audiences of all ages. It will leave you refreshed, up on your feet and dancing out the door in search of the soundtrack.
Review by Nigel Andrews and Rick Skyler