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‘Altar Boyz’ rises and shines
A review of “Altar Boyz,” about a Christian-rock boy band, at Seattle Musical Theatre through March 10, 2013.
Special to The Seattle Times
Music and lyrics by Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker, book by Kevin Del Aguila. Produced by Seattle Musical Theatre. Through March 10 at Magnuson Park, 7400 Sand Point Way N.E., Seattle; $40-$35 (206-363-2809 or seattlemusicaltheatre.org)
First staged in 2005 at an Off-Broadway theater where it played for five years, “Altar Boyz” needs an exceptionally polished production to tell its dance-heavy tale of a five-member Ohio boy band with a Christian-rock emphasis.
And “polished” is what it gets at Seattle Musical Theatre’s home in Magnuson Park. The show’s talented director and choreographer, Troy Wageman, keeps his gracefully energetic dancers spinning for 90 bouncy, intermissionless minutes.
The boys are equally impressive when they’re singing or building characters that will fit into the somewhat gimmicky storyline. The Altar Boyz are performing the last show of their national “Raise the Praise” tour, and the situation allows them to fill out their résumés, “Chorus Line”-style.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, Juan and Abraham are their names, and the actors all have something to contribute. There are no weak links in this cast.
Mark is the closeted gay one, and CJ Conrad manages to make something non-stereotypical of the character’s flamboyance and his infatuation with Matthew (Mark Tyler Miller). Bo Mellinger provides welcome comic relief as Latin lover Juan, Eric Hagreen is the bad boy Luke, while Jeff Orton is the very Jewish Abraham.
The music and lyrics, by Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker, tweak revival meetings and confessionals (not to mention “The Exorcist” and “Spinal Tap”), while the book by Kevin Del Aguila provides an almost credible context.
A small but vital orchestra handles the sudden shifts in musical styles, from the snappy “Rhythm in Me” to the catchy anthem “I Believe,” without blinking.
Best of all, the actor-singer-dancers behave like performers who know their material (and each other). It is as if they’ve been studying and rehearsing this script for months.
If you couldn’t get tickets to the Broadway hit “The Book of Mormon,” this version of “Altar Boyz” could fill that mock-religious-musical gap.