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A CurtainUp London Review
The show predates The Book of Mormon but both being about religious belief is where the similarity stops. I suppose the Mormons have more extreme life styles and beliefs on which to base the parody.
At one point Mark (Jonny Fines) tells us about his being beaten up by a group of Episcopalians maybe on his way to, or back from, church or school. What the Altar Boyz management may not realize is that Episcopalian is the name the Church of England or Anglican Church gives itself when not in England. This show is now in the homeland of the Anglican Church. It might have gone down better in southern Ireland!
While the plot has as many holes in it as a lacy cassock cover, the songs seemed pleasant enough but it was the lyrics which mystified me and the highly energetic choreography with arms outstretched on the cross symbolism or the genuflecting and hands together in prayer. Is this religious spoof or just silly? I admit that I found it the opposite of all that might be sincere about religion and its irreligiosity in bad taste. The soul meter of audience members needing saving started with a much larger number than those in the theatre that night.
The references of two of the group are to New York gang culture, Juan (Faisal Khodabukus) complete with Hispanic headband and Luke (Jamie-Ray Hartshorne) dripping golden bling and flexing muscled arms. Abraham (Alex Jordan-Mills) is meant to be Jewish but is recruited to the group for his brilliant lyric writing. The pair I liked most, Matthew (Liam Doyle) and Mark, the choreographer, who seemed to have a genuine friendship.
It does seem a shame to see so much singing and dance talent spent on this show. Sorry guys I've never warmed to the motor cycling, guitar playing, leather clad vicars and this show confirms the atheist case for me!
Editor's Note: Altar Boyz was one of the still new New York Music Festival's first shows to get a regular off-Broadway run. That was in 2005. While our critic liked it, I was pretty much on the same page as Lizzie when I saw it. e.s.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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