Musical satire Altar Boyz played more than 2000 performances off-Broadway over a five year run and now makes its UK debut – and it’s heavenly.
The one-act power pop production finds Christian boyband Altar Boyz at the end of their world tour, but they still have time to save the lost souls of their London audience, while bustin’ a move.
The five performers make for an almost perfect boyband – parody or not. Liam Doyle as the front-man has the boy-next-door looks and radio-friendly voice down to an art. Jamie-Ray Hartshorne is the bad boy of the group, with killer abs and a voice to match, he shines throughout. While the insinuations over his character’s recent stay in rehab are slightly overbaked (“It was for exhaustion y’all!”), he more than makes up for the one-dimensional character with a real stage presence, and by far the most assured dancing of the night.
Comedy comes from Faisal Khodabukus as Juan. The Spanish shtick is a little one-note but Khodabukus makes it work with his tongue firmly in cheek and regular knowing nods to the audience.
Jonny Fines gets the real laughs as Luke, an Altar Boy hiding a secret. Fines gets increasingly camp and animated with every passing minute and brings the house down with his solo number towards the end of proceedings, which shows off his fantastic vocal range and comedy timing.
Alex Jordan-Mills rounds off the quintet and adds to the mix perfectly with a soaring voice and wide-eyed charm. The boys work really well together and pull off the traditional boyband moves and posturing with a flourish.
The musical works especially well thanks to the strength of the songs. Each track sounds like it’s been plucked from the pop scene during Britney and Backstreet Boys’ heydays. The lyrics are consistently smart and witty and send-up the genre, without being too controversial for the more God-fearing audience members. The choreography is spot-on, knowingly cheesy but still intricate and impressive.
If you’re looking for subtlety and nuance: avoid; but for a high-energy and hilarious concert, Altar Boyz is almost pop perfection. Praise the Lord.