Monday, March 12, 2007

Altar Boyz (The SOB Review)

Altar Boyz (The SOB Review) - Civic Theatre, San Diego, CA

*** (out of ****)

Ultimately, all resistance was futile. I’m now a confirmed believer.

You see, I’ve studiously avoided seeing Altar Boyz -- one of Off-Broadway’s biggest musical hits in years -- only to find myself finally taking in the touring production while in San Diego. I have seen the error of my ways and am now ready to sing its praise: Hallelujah for this harmonious, heaven-sent hit!

Altar Boyz is a musical that plays like a genuine boy band concert (not that I have any firsthand knowledge of such things). Only, this downright divine singing group is all Christian, with the exception of their lone Jewish member.

Between catchy yet treacly tunes by Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker that sound like they’re ripped from the set list of any number of circa 1999 boy bands like the Backstreet Boys, *NSync or 98 Degrees (or Boyzone and Take That for my European guests), Altar Boyz tells the story of how Matthew (Matthew Buckner), Mark (Ryan J. Ratliff), Luke (Jesse JP Johnson), Juan (Jay Garcia) and Abraham (Ryan Strand) came together in the name of G.O.D.

The entire cast in this touring production is nothing short of excellent. These five not only have the acting chops, but they sing angelically all while dancing like the devil (thanks to the exhilarating choreography by Christopher Gattelli).

Buckner’s Matthew is the group’s driving force and leading, yet virginal heartthrob. Ratliff’s Mark is the boy who not only wistfully swoons over Matthew, but dares to come out of the closet…as Catholic. Johnson’s boisterous Luke has just emerged from rehab for…exhaustion. Garcia’s Juan provides some spice and the show’s most poignant moment when his search for his long lost parents comes to an end.

But it’s the delicious irony in Strand’s Abraham, the group’s sole Judeo member, who really galvanizes this show. Not only is Abraham the most divinely inspired when it comes to crafting the group’s trusty tunes, but he’s unwittingly the glue that keeps this quintet together. And incredibly enough, Strand has just recently been added to this amazing cast. You’d think he was part of this group from day one (or is that "The First Day"?).

Altar Boyz provides mostly witty, sometimes subtle and often hilarious observations on faith without resorting to heavy-handed, self-loathing mockeries of what many hold sacred. While it may not rank among the best musicals ever -- and it certainly doesn’t 'spire to be one -- Altar Boyz is one entertaining joy to behold. Thank God!

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.

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At 12 March, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw the show in LA. With the original Abe. first in the tour. And it was so Amazing. My favoeite is Jesse Johnson. WOW! Can he dance or what!!!

At 12 March, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great show! I wish I could see the tour cast, but I'm sure they are just as good as the NY cast.

At 12 March, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This show is amazing! I'm seeing the tour when it comes to Pittsburgh, and I can't wait! I heard that they are amazing!

At 12 March, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Thanks all you Altar Boyz fans (or is it the viral PR machine for the show???) for your comments. I certainly enjoyed the show.


At 13 March, 2007, Blogger AnneMarie said...

No, not a PR machine - just a bunch of fans! I'm a fan of the show from NY. I've been following the tour with google alerts and am thrilled to see it building a fan base across the country!

At 13 March, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Thanks Annemarie. Glad you found my blog and appreciate you and other huge Altar Boyz fans for commenting.

At 13 March, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

steve i am glad u liked the tour i saw it and the cast and show is truely amazing!

At 13 March, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got to see the show in New York and LA and I loved it. I'm also like annemarie and getting the google alerts. I'm happy you liked the show so much. It's always fun to hear about new people who also love the show.

Sprite89 (Ashley)

At 13 March, 2007, Blogger steph1636 said...

Great review! I love Altar Boyz! It is such an awesome show with great music and a good message. The NYC cast and the tour cast are both amazing!

At 14 March, 2007, Blogger Mary said...

I have to say, as much as I love reading the simple fan reviews squealing about the joy that is Altar Boyz (did I just say that?), what I love even more is a well-written review that focuses on more than just the fun aspect. Maybe it's the PR person in me too. ;o)

Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed the show, despite holding out for so long. One of these days, I'll make myself go see the tour so I'm not just stuck in the NYC version.

At 14 March, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

I had no idea that there was such a devoted fan base to this truly fun show. But I'm glad you enjoyed my review!

At 14 March, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Thanks Mary - Always appreciate kind words from a colleague from PR!

At 16 March, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm the new Abraham, Ryan Strand's Mom. I've enjoyed reading the positive comments and look forward to reading what the fans say about the "New Abe." I saw the show in San Diego and was amazed at the enormous talents of all the Boyz and the band. I was equally impressed with the qulaity of people they are off-stage. Thanks for welcoming my boy....Abe's Mom

At 16 March, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Dear Abe's Mom,

I don't think I've ever heard from the mother of a performer I've reviewed before, but glad you liked what you read. I can also appreciate your well-founded pride for your son's talent, which really came across as so effortless -- and again, quite seamless, considering that he was the new kid on the block!

Thanks for checking in!


At 16 March, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve, It was a first for me (ever) to post a note! I laughed at the pun at the end of your last message. Kudos again for the well crafted review.
...Abe's Mom....


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