Yo all! Sorry I’ve been silent for a coupla days but my prime blogging time (that is, lunch time) has been taken up by meetings with some very fine theater folks lately. I’m also gearing up for a trip to NYC this weekend – not even believing that my last trip up there was about a year and a half ago – so time has been tight. But I said I’d get at least something on here about “Altar Boyz” so here goes:
I should get this out of the way right now: I really enjoyed this show. I came in with some reservations and, particularly early on in the show, I found myself self-consciously checking the bearings on my internal faith-related gyroscope. At best, I am a Jeffersonian Christian (look it up if you like; also try Deist) and have all sorts of baggage about religion that I continue to sort through on a regular basis. But it wasn’t long before I put all of that aside and gave in to the fun of this show. I think the show does a pretty exceptional job of playing right at the edge of making fun of devotion but also honoring it; not an easy balance to maintain.
Having said that, I also think it finesses some things less than successfully. The Abraham issue, for instance – they say he’s Jewish but then he’s singing along about Jesus, and there’s nothing really distinct about how he reconciles that. Also, seeing the Mill’s “Altar Boyz” really made me wish I had seen the production that RTP did. So many aspects of the show could be played up or played down. The most obvious difference in choices I could see between the two companies would be how to handle Mark’s coming out as a…Catholic. Hmmm…. All sorts of subtext to work there that the Mill didn’t soft-pedal exactly but also did not take pains to accentuate either, in my opinion.
But looking beyond all of that, there is no denying the strength of this production. The lights (yay, Joe Doran!) and fog effects were awesome and Mickey Nugent’s choreography was top-notch. The performances were exceptional. I’ve liked Brandon Becker in everything I’ve seen but I gained a newfound respect for his star power in this show. Brett was a hoot, as was David, as was Eric! They each could have made their characters broader but I was kinda glad they didn’t. The fresh new face that I left the production eager to see again was Sean B. Williams as Abraham; he’s got an awesome voice and holds his own in some pretty exceptional company.
My whole family had a great time and I’m hoping my two youngest get the idea to start a boy band of their own thanks to this show. I’d love for them to get rich so I can retire to managing their careers full-time. Ha!