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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

Altar Boyz Rock the Rafters at Seattle Musical Theatre

Also see David's review of The Music Man

Altar Boyz
front row: Jeff Orton, Tyler Miller and CJ Conrad; back row: Bo Mellinger and
Eric Hagreen

One of Seattle's longest lived musical theatre companies, Seattle Musical Theatre, has just jump started itself with a slick, savvy staging of the zany Off-Broadway hit musical Altar Boyz. Directed and choreographed with panache and high octane energy by Troy Wageman, the show is an intermission-less 90-minute spoof of a Christian boy band on the verge of becoming big-time solo recording artists. Kevin Del Aguila's book is a paper-thin hook on which to dole out nuggets of info on the boys and their interactions with each other, but the songs by Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker are musically engaging and full of hilarious lyrics, always bordering on the edge of being truly sincere, while tickling our funny bones.

Wageman's cast of boyz are as talented as all get out, and provide dandy eye-candy in the bargain. Group leader Matthew is played with strutting charisma and a big voice by Mark Tyler Mille. Dumb and slightly dangerous is the best way I can describe Eric Hagreen's hilarious characterization as Luke. Bo Mellinger's spin on the spitfire Juan is the funniest take on a loony Latino character since Rita Moreno's Googie Gomez. CJ Conrad is a howl as the flamingly campy Mark (who outs himself, but not in the way you might suspect) and Jeff Orton as the Jewish boy Abraham earns his character laughter and a couple of tears. The quintet sing, together and solo, like a slice of heaven on earth, and amaze with all the style and stamina they pour into Wageman's demanding choreography.

Musical Director Kimberly Dare leads the quartet of accomplished on-stage musicians providing the musical back-up, and kudos to Sound Designer David Torres, whose efforts yield the best sound quality I have ever experienced at an SMT show. Lighting Designer Chris Frickland creates a real rock concert feeling, as do the just slightly over the top costumes by Betsy Rugg. Altar Boyz may be the youngest-skewing show that SMT has done, but the more mature audience members in the opening audience seemed just as enamored of it. Glory be!

Altar Boyz runs through March 10, 2012, at Seattle Musical Theatre. For ticket and other information contact the box-office at 206-363-2809 or visit them online at www.SeattleMusicalTheatre.org.


Photo: Jenni El Fattal



- David Edward Hughes



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