The Greenwich Theatre is one of the larger fringe venues we have in the Off-West End scene – with a very successful history of past productions such as The Secret Garden, Bare and The Last Five Years. When entering the theatre the audience are greeted by the renowned voice of Tony Blackburn, bellowing out the appropriate lines of ‘the Altar Boyz will be getting jiggy with you in two minutes’ and ‘dropping the funk’ – setting the tone for the evening.
Get set for a foot-stomping, rafter-raising musical comedy about a fictitious boy-band on the last night of their Raise the Praise tour. The Boyz are five all-singing, all-dancing heartthrobs – Matthew, Mark, Luke, Juan and Abraham – trying to save the world one screaming fan at a time. Their pious pop act – including lyrics like Girl You Make Me Wanna Wait and Jesus Called Me On My Cell Phone – worked wonders on the bingo hall circuit, but when fate brings them to New York, will the boyz take a bite out of the forbidden apple?
There were a large amount of musical numbers throughout the show: solo songs and heavily heavenly harmony filled songs to full out dance routine songs. The opening number of the show ‘We Are The Altar Boyz’ simply sucks us into the world of late 90’s/early 2000’s techno boy band. The song is incredibly catchy – along with another prominent song ‘Rhythm In Me’ – both of which musically encapsulate this era so well it takes me back to the days of primary school disco’s dancing along to boyzone.
The direction of the show was executed very well to say the show is basically a concert, Steven Dexter managed to give the show some cohesive through line to what seems a very little plot. The choice to keep the show contemporary, adding humour, was very apparent, in the song ‘The Calling’ the boys mention how Jesus ‘friended’ and ‘poked’ them on facebook – receiving howls of laughter from the crowd. There were moments where the performance revealed what can only appear to be lack of rehearsal time when some of the cast members were constantly unable to stick to their blocking formations during dance numbers, resulting in them being in front of other cast members stopping us from seeing them.
The comedy gold moment of the evening came during the song ‘Confession Sessions ‘ where the boys begin by reading out some of the confessions that they have collected before the show in the boxes that were placed around the bar and entrance to the theatre. Succeeding which, Matthew, played by leading man Liam Doyle, commenced with the song containing topics of abstinence and teenage desires before bringing onto the stage the winner of the ‘Meet The Altar Boyz’ competition and singing the rest of the song very sincerely to her. Due to the themes of the song – as you can imagine – was somewhat awkward for the person being pulled up on stage, however, was incredibly hilarious for the rest of the audience!
Overall, Altar Boyz is a good show with a good cast, and if you’re after an evening of entertainment, laughs and a bit of cheesiness, Altar Boyz is the show for you. With a limited run at the theatre I suggest you snap your tickets up now, and don’t forgot to enter your confessions, you may get the chance to meet the boys!
Reviewed by Tom Yates
Altar Boyz is playing at the Greenwich Theatre until 18 October 2014. Click here to book tickets.