The spiritually-minded fivesome of young men who mix their love of God with a secular pop sound opened March 1 at Dodger Stages, and they were greeted with solid notices and screaming fans.
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 in-previews All Shook Up.
Kurt Deutsch of Sh-K-Boom records is producing the Altar Boyz album for release in the coming months. Deutsch's plate is full this spring: His label is also partnering with the producers of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels to create the cast album of that Broadway musical. Both Altar Boyz and Dirty Rotten record March 14.
In recent weeks, Deutsch said the Altar Boyz disc might appear on a fictional Christian-pop label, underscoring the quirky concept of the show. *
The producers of the concept-concert musical comedy 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.)
Lynne Shankel (The Thing About Men) is musical director and co-orchestrator with Doug Katsaros.
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.
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).
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.