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Theatre, Music, etc.


August 15, 2008


Saved by the Boyz

Hilarious ‘concert’ lampoons boy bands and Christian pop

Prepare, Cleveland, for the concert event of the millennium. Prepare for a show that will rock your socks and, perhaps literally, save your soul.

Prepare for Altar Boyz, the hottest Christian boy band in the world.

Yes, the five members of the band have traveled across the nation bringing salvation and the love of the Lord to literally thousands of people.

Altar Boyz is comprised of Matthew, the leader with the boyish good looks; Mark, the sensitive one with a secret crush (well, not quite so secret); Luke, the bad boy; Juan, the ethnic guy searching for his lost parents, and Abraham, the Jewish guy.

If you’re thinking, This can’t be serious, you’re absolutely right. Nor is the band real--they’re an ersatz quintet at the center of the Beck Center for the Arts’ current production, wrapping up this weekend.

The entire show, sets and all, is designed to be a Christian rock concert, complete with cross-shaped dance ramp, not to mention the Sony DX-12 Soul Sensor, which shows how many audience members need their souls saved.

At the beginning of the show, everyone is heading straight to HE-double-hockey-sticks. By the end, the last four holdouts finally see the light, and all is well.

The music is beyond belief. One song, “Rhythm in Me,” is a riff on the Brady Bunch song “I’ve Got the Music in Me,” only a little more high-tech. While the audience never gets to hear Mark’s disco gospel song, they are treated to the flamenco-influenced “La Vida Eternal.”

If you thought it was difficult singing with your tongue in your cheek, apparently it was not too much trouble for the young cast.

Josh Rhett Noble as Matthew is spot-on as the gallant leader, earnest to the point of distraction. John Riddle’s Mark actually manages to work some layers into a character that should be as flat as a pancake, and his “coming out”--as Catholic--is beyond belief.

Luke (Dan Grgic) is a riotous, yet likable, hip-hop meathead, and Ryan Jagru’s asides to audience members as Juan had the audience in stitches.

Connor O’Brien’s Abraham fit perfectly with his compatriots, and watching the confusion, disbelief and annoyance flash across his face from the bizarre situations where he lands is worth the price of admission alone.

Of course, someone might need to tell the property master and the costume designer how many candles go on a menorah, but that’s a quibble only the Jewish audience members will have.

Verb Ballets’ Hernando Cortez choreographed the show, and he gives the boys a workout. If any of the actors was stationary for more than 30 seconds, it must have been off-stage during a costume change.

While it’s not the deepest of shows, it is a sweet, fluffy confection that will definitely please the palate. It has, after all, been running off-Broadway for four years.

If the moral at the end of the show is a little pat, if the overall production pleases the eyes and ears more than the mind, it’s a nice change from “serious” theater.

After all, nobody leaves Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf humming “We Are the Altar Boyz.”

Altar Boyz plays Friday and Saturday at 8 pm, and Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets are $28, $25 for seniors and $17 for students 22 and under with I.D. The Beck Center for the Arts is located at 17801 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood. Call 216-5212540 or go to


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