'Altar Boyz' Band Has Mass Appeal
by Frank Scheck


Theatergoers crying out for a spoof of Christian-rock boy bands ? and yes, they do exist ? now have one in the form of "Altar Boyz."


A hit at the recent New York Musical Theatre Festival, this cheerfully harmless musical boasts a one-joke premise, but the joke is sufficiently well-executed and funny to make the slight evening entertaining.


The titular group named, in mostly biblical fashion, Matthew, Mark, Luke, Juan and Abraham (the sole Jewish member) ? is made up of well-scrubbed, attractive and limber teens purportedly making their New York performance debut.


Thus, after making the announcement that "God is in the house," they deliver a 90-minute show, encompassing such numbers as "Church Rulez" and "The Miracle Song."


Kevin Del Aguila's book consists largely of between-song patter and comic shtick involving interplay among the various members of the group and some audience interaction.


Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker's score, a pastiche of pop and R&B styles, is tuneful, and the lyrics are consistently amusing: "Jesus called me on my cellphone/No roaming charges were incurred/He told me that I should/Go out in the world/And Spread His Glorious Word."


The five members of the band are instantly identifiable types: the Latino (Ryan Duncan); the rapper just out of rehab (Andy Karl); the token Jew (David Josefsberg); the hunky lead singer (Scott Porter) and the gay member (Tyler Maynard) who's got a hopeless crush on one of his bandmates.


There are several musical highlights, "Something About You," in which a hapless female audience member is serenaded with an ode to chastity; "Number 918," an exorcism song; and "Epiphany," a tale of coming out, although not in a way you would expect, hilariously performed by Maynard.