Holy Rollerz hit the stage
summit daily news
Just before the lights went down at the opening night of “Altar Boyz” at Keystone’s Warren Station Thursday, a guy in front of me said to his wife: “This better be good. I could be home watching baseball.”
As it turned out, he was clapping along and rising for the standing ovation at the end along with everyone else. A light confection, no doubt, “Altar Boyz” is about a Christian boy band on the last night of its national tour. Before the less devout go running for the exits, it should be noted that it’s done very tongue-in-cheek. The Altar Boyz may be devout, but they’re not the sharpest knives in the drawer and whoever writes their lyrics is fond of giving them hilarious and slightly absurd bits of sanctimonious fluff. At one point the boyz bleat at the audience that they’re going to “get the hell out” – of us, presumably; while a song about abstinence finds Matthew (Josh T. Smith) crooning to an audience member hauled up on stage that “girl, you make me wanna wait.”
It being the beginning of August, this is the point in the Lake Dillon Theatre Company’s repertory season where those who’ve been following along with the other shows are getting to know these actors pretty well. I can’t say “Altar Boyz” is exactly my cup of holy water, but there’s no denying artistic director Chris Alleman and his partner and executive director Josh Blanchard hit it out of the park at auditions this year. This group of five young men, whatever they may personally believe, takes “Altar Boyz” where it needs to go with conviction, strong singing and dancing and the reverent touch the material demands. Artfully directed and choreographed by Denver’s Nick Sugar, we’re sold that we’re watching a professional, national tour that could well draw a following (and, as it turns out, record deals). With the gimmick of a computer screen that assesses the number of souls in the audience yet to be saved (which decreases as the fervor of the songs amps up), the boyz are a ton of fun to watch and manage to imbue just a bit of guilt in the audience as we witness their assumed purity.
In addition to Matthew, the rest of the group is comprised of Mark (Garrett Bruce, who’s getting his holy on this summer as he also played Jesus in “Godspell”), Luke (Michael Jayne Walker), Juan (Brett Michael Wilson) and Abraham (David Piazza). Briefly, Mark is the gay guy, Luke is the rapper, Juan is the Hispanic, Abraham is, somewhat inexplicably, the Jew and Matthew is, I guess, the stud. (Local Matt Renoux also appears offstage as The Voice of God.)
As a recovering Catholic myself (and not the only one in the audience, judging from the reaction), I loved Garrett Bruce’s over-the-top solo number “I Am a Catholic,” which cleverly starts off with us thinking he’s singing about the persecution of being gay. Another song featured the lines “God texted me from heaven” and “Jesus friended me on Facebook” – a pretty good indicator of how the boyz see their faith being manifested in 2011.
“Altar Boyz” runs about 90 minutes with no intermission, so it’s a quick hit of poppy, Christian-y fizz that’s in and out before it wears out its welcome. Again, if you’ve enjoyed “Tommy” or “Godspell” at Dillon this summer, you’ll welcome seeing these actors go at this material. And if the saccharine nature of the material wears on you at all, well, they’ve got whiskey at the bars there in River Run Village at Keystone to help wash it all away.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.
Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User