The peak of the so-called boy band craze in pop music came in about the year 2000; by 2002, the fashion was over. Altar Boyz, a musical about a boy band, arrived off-Broadway on March 1, 2005, which may be as close to currency as the musical theater gets. But there is nothing as out as that which was recently in, and the show plays as a period piece no less than Forever Plaid, another off-Broadway musical about a male vocal group. And similar to Forever Plaid, Altar Boyz is intended as a lightly satiric, yet affectionate take on its subject. The big joke here is that the fictional Altar Boyz are a group of Catholics -- Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Juan (and, oh, yes, Abraham, who, for reasons never really explained, is Jewish) -- and they are here to sing about their faith. They do so in the combination of dance, Latin, and ballad styles, complete with overly emotive harmony and solo singing, that will be familiar to anyone who's ever heard a Backstreet Boys album. Songwriters Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker clearly have their tongues in their cheeks. "Church Rulez" is an account of what the Catholic Mass is like, with its constant cycle of standing, sitting, and kneeling. "The Calling" announces that Jesus Christ has spoken to the singers -- by calling on a cell phone! "The Miracle Song" repeats familiar Gospel tales in rap style. The big romantic ballad, "Something About You," finds lead singer Matthew (Scott Porter) explaining to his girlfriend his adherence to abstinence. "La Vida Eternal," the inevitable Latin track inevitably handled by Juan (Ryan Duncan), reveals that "the afterlife is not a scary place." And "Epiphany," with lead vocals by Mark (Tyler Maynard), is a declaration of Catholic identity in terms reminiscent of a homosexual coming-out ("this is who you are, it's not a choice"). The singers, of course, render all these potted sentiments with mock sincerity, and, particularly on the cast album, it's possible to mistake that for real sincerity now and then. At very least, the songwriters have brought a knowledge of their musical and theological subjects to their writing, and as much sympathy as critical intent. And maybe the boy band trend has been gone just long enough to be ripe for such treatment. Meanwhile, both non-believers and the devout (as long as they have a sense of humor) should enjoy the music.
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Performance CreditsDavid Anthony Matos Guitar
Tyler Maynard Vocals
Clayton Craddock Drums
Andy Karl Vocals
David Josefsberg Vocals
Ryan Duncan Vocals
Scott Porter Vocals
Lynne Shankel Keyboards
Technical CreditsDoug Katsaros Programming,Producer,Orchestration,Audio Production
Billy Jay Stein Producer
Robyn Goodman Executive Producer
Kenny Davenport Executive Producer
Kurt Deutsch Executive Producer
Gary Adler Composer
Jonathan Kaplan Engineer
Michael Patrick Walker Composer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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i have seen it off broadway and it was wonderful. All of the songs are fabulous! They keep you bouncing around the room begging for more!
I cannot wait for this cast recording to be released. I havnt even seen the show yet and I am obsessed. The music from this show is HEAVENLY!!!
This is by far the WORST thing that I have ever introduced to my ears. A musical about a pop-wanna-be singers!? That's all it is. I got the sample CD in the male; I didn't even have to bother listening to the full recording!!!
i saw the show in new york city and it is by far the best show in town! it is funny. the guys are so talented. the songs are amazing. it's truly hilarious. it's also not at all religious at all. i took my wife, my daughter and my mother. we all loved it. i can hardly wait to surprise them with the cd!