Theater Review: "Altar Boyz"

"Altar Boyz," now at the Coronado Playhouse
Photo credit:
Coronado Playhouse

Coronado Playhouse is rocking through Feb. 19 with the sounds of a (satirical) Christian boy band whose goals are to save souls and lift spirits. “We’re gonna alter your mind,” they sing, “We think that church is too refined.”

There’s nothing refined about the “Altar Boyz,” who first introduce themselves in the upbeat “We Are The Altar Boyz” and then unveil the “Sony DS-12 Soul Sensor” – a TV screen that measures the sin level of the audience.

Uh-oh, tonight the number is 99. They’ve got some work to do.

Michael Mizerany directs and choreographs a talented quintet of singer/dancers as they dance, gyrate, swivel their hips and – oh yes – sing praises in their attempt to cleanse dirty audience souls.

Four of them are named for the gospels. Matthew (Cody Ingram) is the group’s leader; Mark (SeeJay Lewis), with outrageously high blonde hair (and a great high tenor voice) tries to control his crush on Matthew.

Peter Armado’s Luke is the bad boy, recently released from a facility where he went for help with “exhaustion.” Patrick Mayuyu returns (and amuses) as Juan, the token Latino with heavy accent and a sad background story.

Last but not least is Abraham, a ringer described in the program as “the gefilte fish out of water” and played wonderfully by Dennis Peters. Abe is a Jew, but the boys need him because he can write lyrics – and sing.

Each character gets a solo turn.

The songs (by Gary Adler and Michael Patrick), are rhythmically varied, mostly upbeat and feature close harmony and gently satirical lyrics.

One that provokes giggles is “The Calling,” in which “Jesus called me on my cell phone! (Jesus) added me on Snapchat!”

But it’s not all silliness. The song that best conveys the serious message is “Everybody Fits.”

Some of those lyrics:

“In the family of God you’ll learn/there is no such thing as others/All the women and men on earth/can be your sisters and your brothers.”

Unfortunately, this message is diluted by the fact that all the boyz are holding a stuffed lamb.

But aside from that, this is a talented cast and an amusing show. I was especially impressed with Ingram’s vocal power as Matthew and SeeJay Lewis, who has a great time with all those really high notes as the only tenor in the group.

Mizerany’s choreography is fun and busy and frequently reminded me of the zumba classes I see in the gym. 

Kudos to conductor Sean LaPerruque and his onstage band as well, who support without drowning out the boyz.

“Altar Boyz” ran off-Broadway for five years. It’s rather unusual fare for the Playhouse (with adult humor and innuendo), but if you can take your religion with a wink and a nod, give “Altar Boyz” a try.

The details

“Altar Boyz” plays through February 19, 2017 at Coronado Playhouse, 1835 Strand Way, Coronado.

Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm.

Tickets: (619) 435-4856 or www.coronadoplayhouse.com