Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Theater: Altar Boyz

Pop Christian act wants you to get down with God

Under blazing concert lights, catchy pop songs, and trendy stage outfits and hair gel on its male leads, there is actually a deep, spiritual message in the “Altar Boyz,” the fast-paced musical now showing at the Drury Lane Water Tower Place.

It’s hard to spot at first—as you’re blinded by their boy band-esque antics and pretty boy looks—so it’s hard to take them serious when they belt out good-natured lines like “Jesus Called Me on My Cell Phone” or “I’m Coming Out as a Catholic.” But halfway through the 90-minute performance (with no intermission), you totally get where they’re going when they introduce the “soul sensor,” a disco ball-decorated device detecting the “faith” of audience members. At its highest, the soul sensor detected more than 600 non-believers in the audience (even though the theater only holds 549), and their mission was to knock it down to zero through song, dance and a little inspirational conversation.

The eclectic cast of characters included the limp-wristed, tight trouser- wearing “Mark” (Brian Crum) who had a secret crush on group founder “Matthew” (Devin DeSantis); hip-hop wannabe “Luke” (Tyler McGee), who occasionally busted out in rhyme and breakdance; “Juan” (Adam Zelasko), a passionate Latin performer who was also searching for his birth parents; and “Abraham” (Nick Verina), who is the only Jewish member, and ironically wrote all the group’s songs.

While on opening night, the audience was composed of older adults, gay couples and young Christian groups, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see hordes of screaming young girls filling up seats as the show continues its run. The songs are a little too sugary-pop for the average theater-goer, and while the message is that it’s hip to be “down with God,” it’s delivered in a way that’ll only appeal to fans of “The Hills” and “Gossip Girl.”

“Altar Boyz” runs October 7 – January 6, 2008
Drury Lane Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut St.
Performance Schedule: Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m., Wednesdays at 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m., Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. & 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. & 5 p.m.
Tickets: priced from $45 to $55, are currently on sale via the Drury Lane Water Tower Place Box Office, by calling 312-642-2000 or online at Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more by calling 312-423-6612. A limited number of student rush tickets, priced at $25, will be available two hours prior to each performance at the Drury Lane Box Office only. – Audarshia Townsend

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From left: Tyler McGee, Brian Crum, Devin DeSantis, Adam Zelasko and Nick Verina.