Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
May 23rd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Boys in the Brand

AE altarPop parody, faux-faith merge in Cabrillo Stage’s energetic ‘Altar Boyz’

To kick off its 2014 summer musical theater season, Cabrillo Stage delivers a terrific production of an oddball show, Altar Boyz. A long- running hit that ran off-Broadway from 2005 to 2010, the show is designed as a revue-style jukebox musical; it purports to be a concert
by a fictitious, perfectly manicured and choreographed boy band of the era. The twist is that they’re selling a sunny Christian message, bumping and grinding for Jesus.

There’s not really a plot. The show unfolds in real time, like a concert (no intermission), the last stop on the group’s “Raise the Praise”
Tour. The Boyz are swoon-worthy Matthew (Jamen Nanthakumar), Mark (Curtis Reynolds), Luke (Jomar Martinez), Juan (Brian Conway) and Abraham (Jordan Sidfield). These characters are unabashed stereotypes—street kid Luke, Hispanic Juan, Mark with his puppy-dog crush on Matthew—but the excellent cast delivers them with plenty of heart and chutzpah. And Cabrillo Stage stalwart Janie Scott directs it all with breezy panache.

The show has a sly sense of the way Christianity, and specifically the Catholic Church, is retooling its brand with a lot of technology to reel in youthful converts. “Jesus Called Me On My Cell Phone” is one song, and tweets from JC#Heaven appear on the jumbo screens that flank the stage, while an onscreen “Soul Sensor DX-12” calculates the number of souls being saved in the audience as the show goes on. There’s even a guest appearance by the voice of God, warning them not to “skew to an older demographic, which I detesteth.”

Still, it’s often a strange mix, as the show tries to spoof some of the, er, thornier aspects of Christianity. There are fleeting jokes about faith-based obedience, religious intolerance (Abe says the only other Jew allowed in the church is the one nailed to the cross), and outlawed sex. (In “Something About You,” a love song to abstinence, Matthew barely stops short of confessing to the obvious alternative. In the same vein, Mark doesn’t quite dare confess to being gay; instead, he channels his sense of being out-of-synch into the religious-and-proud anthem, “I am ... Catholic!”)

But the spoofiness is so sweet- natured, so determined not to offend the faithful, that it muddies the distinction of satire. Those hoping for more irony in the epiphanies of the last few numbers—or a tad more bite— won’t find it. If anything, the show’s original creators (music and lyrics by Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker, book by Kevin Del Aguila) have replicated a Christian boy band in such perfect detail, it feels like proselytizing for real.

None of which detracts from the great pleasure of the actors’ high-octane performances in this production. Nanthakumar anchors the show as heartthrob/ leader Matthew, crooning to a female fan plucked out of the audience. Reynolds charms as relentlessly peppy Mark; he also does a hilarious riff on the tortured vibrato vocalizations so popular in mainstream pop. Conway’s flirty, flamboyant Juan; Martinez's hip- hopping, sweetly bewildered Luke; and Sidfield’s engagingly chipper Abraham all have their moments as well.

All five of these guys can sing and dance like crazy, in a demanding show that requires them to segue from Top-40 style pop harmonies and precision choreography into rap, break- dancing, gospel, and simmering Latino salsa. Special kudos are also due to the five-man onstage band, under the director of conductor and keyboardist Max Bennett-Parker. They back up the Boyz throughout and keep the music fresh and flowing.


The Cabrillo Stage production of Altar Boyz plays through July 13 at the Crocker Theater, Cabrillo College. For tickets and information call (831) 479-6154, or visit cabrillostage.com.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Gate Openers

Up-and-coming artists like Ryan Bingham are a great reason to show up early to the Santa Cruz American Music Festival

 

Gemini Sun, Pentecost, Shavuot—Enlightenment and Gladness

As the sun enters Gemini on Sunday, sign of speaking, communication, thinking, inter-relations, writing and understanding languages, the feast days of Pentecost & Shavuot (Catholic and Jewish festivals) occur. During Pentecost’s 50 days after Easter, tongues of fire appear above the heads of the disciples, providing them with the ability to understand all languages and all feelings hidden in the minds and hearts of humanity. It’s recorded that Pentecost began with a loud noise, which happened in an upper room (signifying the mind). The Christ (World Teacher) told his disciples (after his ascension) when encountering a man at a well carrying a water pot (signs for Age of Aquarius) to follow him to an upper room. There, the Holy Spirit (Ray 3 of Divine Intelligence) would overshadow them, expand their minds, give them courage and enable them to teach throughout the world, speaking all languages and thus able to minister to the true needs of a “seeking” humanity. Pentecost (50 days, pentagram, Ray 5, Venus, concrete and scientific knowledge, the Ray of Aquarius) sounds dramatic, impressive and scary: The loud noise, a thunderous rush of wind and then “tongues of fire” above the heads of each disciple (men and women). Fire has purpose. It purifies, disintegrates, purges, transforms and liberates (frees) us from the past. This was the Holy Spirit (Ray 3, love and wisdom) being received by the disciples, so they would teach in the world and inform humanity of the Messiah (Christ), who initiated the new age (Pisces) and gave humanity the new law (adding to the 10 Commandments of the Aries Age) to Love (Ray 2) one another. Note: Gemini is also Ray 2. Shavuot is the Jewish Festival of Gladness, the First Fruits Festival celebrating the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses as the Aries Age was initiated. Thus, we have two developmental stages here, Jewish festival of the Old Testament. Pentecost of the New Testament. We have gladness, integrating both.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Off Her Meds

Kristin Wiig runs wild—and transcends her sketch comedy roots—as a truly strange character ‘Welcome to Me’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Flats Bistro

Pizza with an artisan twist comes to Aptos Beach

 

What’s your take on Santa Cruz locals?

Santa Cruz locals are really friendly once you know them. I think a lot of them have a hard time leaving, and I would too. Ryan Carle, Santa Cruz, Biologist

 

Soquel Vineyards

If Soquel Vineyards partners Peter and Paul Bargetto and Jon Morgan were walking down the street wearing their winning wine competition medals, you’d hear them coming from a mile away. This year was particularly rewarding for the Bargettos and Morgan—they won two Double Gold Medals and five Gold Medals at January’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

 

Enlightened Flavors

Squash & Blossom’s artisanal alternative-flour delights, beet kvass from Cafe Ivéta, and the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival