God Squad Sings! Pop-Group Spoof, Altar Boyz, Begins Off-Broadway Run Feb. 15

News   God Squad Sings! Pop-Group Spoof, Altar Boyz, Begins Off-Broadway Run Feb. 15 The voice of God in the new tongue-in-cheek pop musical, Altar Boyz, about a Christian boy group, belongs to none other than Top 40 radio host Shadoe Stevens. His sonorous sound begins echoing Off-Broadway Feb. 15, at the first preview.

Former "Hollywood Squares" personality Shadoe Stevens is host of "American Top 40," billed as the most successful and widely-syndicated radio show in the world. He'll speak to his disciples of pop — Matthew, Mark, Luke, Juan and Abraham — at Dodger Stages.

The new concept-concert musical, boasting the pop act of a group of handsome Christian singer-dancers, is produced by Ken Davenport and Robyn Goodman, in association with Walter Grossman, Ruth Hendel, Sharon Karmazin, Matt Murphy, and Mark Shacket.

Stevens recorded his role Feb. 7. 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.

Opening night is March 1 at Dodger Stages' Stage 4 at 340 W. 50th Street, just west of Eighth Avenue.

"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 show has a score by Gary Adler (musical director of Avenue Q) and Michael Patrick Walker, book 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).

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).

There is talk that the Sh-K-Boom cast album of the show (to be recorded in March) might appear on a "fictional" Christian-pop label, underscoring the quirky concept of the show.

The musical is directed by Stafford Arima (Paper Mill Playhouse's Guys and Dolls and London's Ragtime, for which he was Olivier Award nominated).

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 Peter Hylenski (sound).

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.

The <i>Altar Boyz</i>.
The Altar Boyz. Photo by Nick Ruechel