The producers of the concept-concert musical comedy at Dodger Stages would like you to believe that this is a real group — not unlike The Plaids and The Taffetas of past musical revues, or the fictional Spinal Tap rockers of the film, "This Is Spinal Tap."
In truth, as in their precursors, actors play the Altar Boyz. But anyone giving the handsome, harmonic, hip-swiveling boys a cursory glance might mistake them for pop stars seen on MTV, at Madison Square Garden or in a Super Bowl half-time show.
The so-called disciples of pop are Matthew, Mark, Luke, Juan and Abraham, and when their tongues aren't poised for a communion wafer, they're articulating a collection of spoofy, catchy, original songs by Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker. (The boys' tongues are in-cheek, too, of course.)
"Altar Boyz is the new musical comedy about a struggling Christian boy-band riding the wave of America's latest fascination with religion," according to the producers. "Armed with catchy melodies, divine moves and product in their hair, the self-anointed apostles of pop…bring their soul-saving tour to New York City…."
The voice of God in Altar Boyz belongs to none other than Top 40 radio host Shadoe Stevens. His sonorous sound began echoing Feb. 15, at the first preview. It's the boys, however, who have to work up a sweat every night. Expect tight pop rhythm, tight pants and tight synchronized choreography (by Christopher Gattelli). In the tradition of Forever Plaid, but with an all-original score, the characters will play it straight, even when the lyrics are sometimes bent.
Featured in the cast are Scott Porter (Toxic Audio) as Matthew; Ryan Duncan (Man of La Mancha, Fiddler on the Roof) as Juan; David Josefsberg (Les Miserables, Grease) as Abraham; Andy Karl (Saturday Night, Saturday Night Fever) as Luke; and Tyler Maynard (Mamma Mia!) as Mark, the youngest of the boys. All but Porter appeared in the popular fall 2004 test of the show as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF). Their wastrel brother, Cheyenne Jackson, is the star of Broadway's dawning All Shook Up.
Gary Adler was musical director of Avenue Q. The Altar Boyz book is by Kevin Del Aguila (Six Story Building at the 2002 NYC Fringe), based on a concept by Marc Kessler (The Manhattan Rhythm Kings) and Ken Davenport (Awesome 80s Prom).
Sh-K-Boom is expected to record the cast album of the show in March. It might appear on a "fictional" Christian-pop label, underscoring the quirky concept of the show.
Lynne Shankel (The Thing About Men) is musical director and co-orchestrator with Doug Katsaros. Designers are Anna Louizos (scenic), Gail Brassard (costume), Natasha Katz (lighting) and Simon Matthews (sound).
Performances play Dodger Stages' Stage 4 at 340 W. 50th Street, just west of Eighth Avenue.
Tickets are $66 Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings and $69 Friday, Saturday and Sunday matinee.
Performances are Tuesday-Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 2 PM and 8 PM, and Sundays at 3 PM and 7 PM. For more information, contact Telecharge.com at (212) 239-6200 or visit www.altarboyz.com.
Inexpensive rush seats are available at every performance for $20 each. It's billed as "parochial student rush" — cash only, at the box office, an hour before the show, subject to availability, limit one per person, no school ID required.