Altar Boyz – Sweet Fizzy God Pop
A REVIEW BY ACHILLES FEELS
Sexy dudes, once again, hold fierce at Spotlighter’s in Altar Boyz. Sic. Yes, the “z” is in the title, and I’m not sure if there is supposed to be a space between each of those words or if it’s just AltarBoyz? Groan. Anyway, the last Spots show I saw, Dog Sees God, also featured a bunch of homosexakal hotties and I’m sensing a theme to the end of this year’s season! Now before you get all bible-belt on me (cause I know ya’ll are out there, emailing the poor ol’ Oracle with your complaints on how I sometimes over-gay-it-up) hear me out. This show is just kinda gay. In a way. There’s no doubting that. Even if it’s not super overt, there’s an undertone that’s a little more Backdoor than Backstreet, if you know what I’m sayin’. You’re gonna have to get over it.
Altar Boyz is also stupid-funny, a blastin’, high-energy kinda show. Nobody can really take this “church” or their “word of G.O.D.” seriously simply because of the ridiculous vehicle for it; a straight up boy band. While only one character plays out on the Kinsey scale as a full 6, the whole team obviously know their way around a dark and sweaty dressing room, wink wink, nudge, nudge. There’s little story (how do I keep getting stuck with these shows with so little plot Oracle!? [That’s what you get for being prettier than me, so, you’re welcome- TBO]) but the basics are as follows: A whole team of bros, five to be exact, end up in a boy band due to their mutual love for spreadin’ the Word through their gospely type Backstreet Boys cum N’SYNC type concerts. All the dudes put on a Sony sponsored show involving this totally cutting edge technology that can measure how many bedamned souls are present. Get it? They’re here to save and convert souls! As it goes, though, some of those good-guy peeps onstage are sinning right along with the audience. This show pure and excessive cheez, but it plays well, and kept me laughing all the same. The music is exactly as you’d expect it to be. It’s high mass meets 98 Degrees played out at a Britney Spears concert (before she went fabulous saucy cray-cray, of course).
The sausage fest is comprised of five fiiiiiiine male specimens: Matthew (Darnell Davis), the soulful, deep, PO lovely C, Mark (Griffin DeLisle) the über-twink lusting after Matthew, Luke (Garrett Zink) the hunky Italian Stallion who has a serious problem with air-quote -exhaustion- end air-quote, Juan (Matt Wetzel) the Latin One, a not exact “boy” in this “boyband,” and finally Abraham (Andrew Worthington) the utterly adorable Jewish bro-next-door. All five of these guys do a great job on stage. They all dance like it’s their main gig and sing their asses off, sometimes astoundingly, sometimes so-so, but no matter. Director Jillian Bauersfeld keeps it so funny and so hyper that sometimes hitting a wrong note is even funnier and then they laugh at themselves and each other. It’s perfect.
Technically speaking the show could use a little love. The sound levels (sound and video by Heiko Spieker) were off and it was obvious that sometimes the band had a hard time catching up with the boyz and vice versa. It was clear that Music Director Michael Tan tried to keep everybody on pace, but he just could not do it given the orientation of the musicians and the overall sound system support. The stage painting treatment was way too simple, that set design (Alan Zembla) was kinda phoned-in. Dear All of Baltimore’s Theatre Scene: STOP with the glossy paint on stage, it doesn’t work no matter how cheap it was. Put it down and back away. The costumes (Laura Nicholson) were appropriate, if a little uncreative. Lighting design (Fuzz Roark) screamed for some high-energy, fun-loving color and moving lights but what we got was 70’s disco-fever and some burned out gels. The gem was the choreography by Jose Teneza, that shit was the bomb ya’ll. Who doesn’t love a good man-hip-thrust timed perfectly to the music?
BOTTOM LINE: This show was a big ol’ hoot and holler. It took me a while to get on the boy band bus, (grrl, that is so 1997) but after I did I had a great time buying as these bros sold me G.O.D. By the end, I was rolling in the aisles. Go see this crazy aerobic-church-production-thing and let the Altar Boyz cover you with “the glory of their sweet pop music.” Praise.
Running at Spotlighters until August 2nd.
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