Review: Altar Boyz at Stoneham Theatre
OnStage Massachusetts Critic
The musical comedy ‘Altar Boyz’ was conceived by Mark Kessler and Ken Davenport and ran for over 2000 performances Off-Broadway. The book was written by Kevin Del Aguila with music and lyrics by Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker. The show focuses on a fictitious Christian boy band giving the last performance of their national ‘Raise the Praise’ tour. These five best friends have been singing and dancing their way around the country while sharing their faith with their audiences. ‘Altar Boyz’ cleverly and satirically pays homage to the Christian church and 1990’s boy bands in a wonderfully entertaining way.
Stoneham Theatre’s production was co-directed by Tyler Rosati and Ceit Zweil with choreography by Ceit Zweil and music direction by Matthew Stern. In addition to playing the keyboard, Stern also leads the rockin’ four piece band elevated upstage. The concert-like set design was created by Jenna Lord and was further exemplified with the lighting design by Jeff Adelberg and sound design by John Stone.
One of the most important aspects to get right with this musical is the vocal power, quality and ability of the performers. Without the right vocalists, the show can literally fall flat. Thankfully Stoneham Theatre completely nailed their casting with five exceptionally talented vocalists: Sean Mitchell Crosley as Luke, Ricardo D. Holguin as Juan, Michael Levesque as Matthew, Michael Jennings Mahoney as Mark, and Bryan Miner as Abraham. There wasn’t a weak link among them! This is the most perfectly cast musical I have seen in the last year!
From the start, the cast brings energy and fun onto the stage. Their excitement quickly grabbed a hold of the audience, who were laughing and applauding in no time. The opening number “We are the Altar Boyz” swiftly got the audience’s attention and we really felt like we were at a [insert your favorite ‘90’s boy band] concert. Upbeat musical numbers including “Rhythm in Me” and “La Vida Eternal” featured fantastic choreography that was very reminiscent of the ‘90’s boy band era. Choreographer Ceit Zweil took the abilities of the cast and mixed it with some great early hip hop, jazz and pop moves making each number fun and funky. While the whole cast may not have been extensively trained dancers, their rhythm and unification were great. They took the choreography, made it their own and looked like they were having a blast performing it.
Throughout the show, their singing, especially their harmonies, were on point. Their solo numbers allowed them each to shine and further highlight their talent: be it an extensive vocal range or the ability to jump through vocal hoops during a song. The themes of faith and friendship were wonderfully represented by the dynamic cast. “I Believe” was especially poignant and powerful. The professionalism of this cast is unparalleled. Even when a technical problem arose, their performance didn’t falter and they made it work. This absolutely outstanding production fully deserved the extended standing ovation they received. Without hesitation, I would go see this again!!
If you’re looking for a musical to see this spring, ‘Altar Boyz’ should be that musical! It’s hilarious, the voices are top notch and the dancing is excellent! You’ll leave the theatre smiling for sure!
‘Altar Boyz’ runs about 80 minutes with no intermission and plays at Stoneham Theatre, 395 Main St. Stoneham, until April 9th. Tickets range $50- $55 Adults, $45-$50 Seniors and $20 Students (with valid ID). For tickets or more information visit www.stonehamtheatre.org or call the box office at 781-279-2200. The Cast of Altar Boyz (2017). Photo Credit: Maggie Hall Photography.
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