Part parody, part satire, part pop commentary on the place of religion in contemporary America, Diamond Head Theatre’s production of "Altar Boyz" is delightful, fast-moving musical theater.
>> Where: Diamond Head Theatre, 520 Makapuu Ave.
The premise is simple: The Altar Boyz, a "boy band" with a Christian repertoire, are closing their worldwide "Raise the Praise" tour with a concert at DHT. The "concert" is 90 minutes long without intermission. It zips along with never a down moment, and it is clean and clever entertainment for teens and open-minded adults of all ages.
Each of the "boyz" is a character type — just like all those prefabricated "boy bands" of recent memory. Each character type is beautifully portrayed by director/choreographer Tammy Colucci’s talented cast.
Kyle Malis and his brother Conor Malis take turns playing Matthew, the Boyz’ straight-edged leader. Kyle was excellent as Matthew in the opening-night performance on Friday.
Joel Libed is Mark, a sweet Justin Bieber type struggling to control his crush on Matthew.
Garett T.K. Taketa is Luke, the overbearing faux-gangsta member who had to take time off to recover from "exhaustion" at the New Horizon Rejuvenation Center.
Chris Villasenor is Juan, the Hispanic member, abandoned at birth and seeking God’s help in finding his birth parents.
Elitei Tatafu Jr. is Abraham — "He’s Jewish!" — who was added to the group because he can write song lyrics.
DHT’s group is so good — and their Christian songs so spot-on — that they could easily play one of those megachurch/social scene worship venues and be accepted as the real thing.
Anyone who remembers the Backstreet Boys, *N Sync and any of the countless other boy bands of the last two decades will appreciate the attention to detail. The choreography, and the obviously scripted and memorized patter between songs, is dead-on. Each cast member has at least one number that lets him showcase his talents as a singer, dancer, actor and comedian. All five hit the mark on opening night.
There are also insightful comments about religious attitudes in America. Asked whether Jews are welcome in churches, Abraham replies, "I just saw one on the cross above the altar!"
Other quick comic bits include a reference to Mary Magdalene as "magdalicious," Mark dropping a quote by Oscar Wilde, an Orthodox Jewish lamb hand puppet, and the Boyz’ aversion to the word "evolution."
The show plays out to a surprising but satisfying finale as the Boyz make good on their promise to "Alter your mind."
Don’t miss it.