Book, music and lyrics: Kevin Del Aguila, Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker
Director: Steven Dexter
Reviewer: Jessica Gray
Lively, joyous and evangelical pop musical Altar Boyz, which was a smash hit Off-Broadway success with a five year run, has finally made its way to the UK with its British premiere at the Greenwich Theatre directed by Steven Dexter (Loserville) and produced by Paul Taylor-Mills (In the Heights).
The show is a 90 minute, one act concert of fictitious Christian musical group the Altar Boyz. It follows the events of their final stop on an international tour as they attempt to cleanse some souls through their perky pop music and boyish charm.
The cast of five, whom would all fit perfectly well in a real boy band, features Liam Doyle (Matthew), Jonny Fines (Mark), Jamie-Ray Hartshorne (Luke), Alex Jordan-Mills (Abraham) and Faisal Khodabukus (Juan). Each member of the cast brings something exceptional to the performance; Fines and Khodabukus are both uproarious with the most comic rôles, while Doyle and Hartshorne have powerful stage presence worthy of note and Jordan-Mills brings a gentle tenderness, particularly to the shows stirring finale.
One of the most exciting things about the show is the audience acknowledgment and interaction; sometimes just a coy wink and a smile from Khodabukus and sometimes something more, the cast and writers have worked hard to make sure the audience feels involved in the show in some way.
The musical numbers are fast-paced, pumped up fun that will stay in the audience’s head, but it is the utterly brilliant choreography by Ewan Jones that really makes the show. Typical but tricky-looking boy band dance routines performed in perfect synchronisation wow the audience from start to finish. The cast don’t get a break as they rapidly move from song to song and each with choreography more electrifying than the last.
The one thing that brings this otherwise near-perfect show down is how disjointed it can feel. There’s no real narrative to the show, more than anything it is a concert, and anyone who goes in expecting a well-rounded story will be let down. Although the audience are high-spirited, whooping and cheering, the show is too short and the story not quite existent enough to make the piece feel like it has any real effect or importance, and the lack of this Christian pop-culture in the UK means it’s difficult to relate.
Then again perhaps this vivacious and cheerful show need not have any moral or narrative as long as it is bringing the audience the joy it preaches.
Runs until 18th October 2014| PhotoClaire Bilyard