Dude, I confess: I’m down with the Altar Boyz!
At least in their incarnation at the ATF, where this production of the 2005 affectionate send-up of boy bands, fundamentalism and fame is receiving a boffo treatment. It’s only July, folks, but this glorious show is destined for my Top 10 list at year’s end — meaning go to the Hyde Museum, have dinner and cop a ticket.
It’s all about the “z.” No Up With People this troupe. You’ve got Matthew (Matt DeAngelis), the earnest, blond-haired lead singer; Mark (Mitch Dean), the cheerful diva with a crush on Matthew; Luke (Lee Markham), whose rehab still has a little way to go; Juan (Xavier Cano), a Latino lost boy who flirts with ladies in the audience; and Abraham (Todd Stern), who wears a yarmulke, carries a Star of David, and saves the Christians from themselves.
WHERE: Adirondack Theatre Festival, Charles R. Wood Theater, 207 Glen St., Glens Falls
WHEN: through July 26
HOW MUCH: $29
MORE INFO: 798-8374
The Boyz and their hot band, led by the one-and-only Gary Adler, have come to, as Juan calls it, Las Cascadas de Glen, to save souls. It’s the last stop on their Raise the Praise Tour, and to find out how many paying customers need saving, they periodically consult their electronic Soul Sensor, a scoreboard stage right that indicates how successfully their musical message is getting across.
With the same kind of sincerity that characterized the singing and sweet lack of self-awareness of the “Forever Plaid” quartet, these five promote the gospel amped up for the 21st century. Wearing head mics, mismatched outfits, and sneakers, they rock and hip hop through songs like “Jesus Called Me on My Cellphone,” “Rhythm in Me,” and (with an audience member) a paean to virginity called “Something About You.”
In the process, of course, they only expose their own foibles: Hysterical lyrics delivered with straight faces.
The choreography by Christopher Gattelli loads each number with more moves than the Back Street Boys pulled off in a whole concert, and this quintet is up to every step. Singing? You bet, while dancing, and in close harmony.
Each character gets a solo, which shows off how completely well-rounded these five 20-something professional actors are.
Putting it together
Yet credit director Stafford Arima, who directed the original Off-Broadway production, with making them become a completely credible group. Aside from the musical dimension of their performances, they are fine actors who play off each other with spot-on timing. A special nod to the subtle looks and gestures of Dean as the love-starved Mitch, and the hysterical mood swings of Cano’s Juan.
Oh, and Shadoe Stevens provides the voice of G.O.D., as resonant and ironic as you always hoped it would be.
I seldom stay for talk-backs after a performance, but I did on Saturday. I had to see if these five guys breathed the same air as mere mortals. Yup. But somehow it’s intoxicating to them!