New Kids on the Cross 

Richmond Triangle's “Altar Boyz” finds the heart of a corporate Christian boy band.

click to enlarge art06_theater_altar_boys_200.jpg

Meet the Richmond Triangle Players' version of “Altar Boyz,” a Christian boy band ending its “Raise the Praise” tour here in Richmond at the Metropolitan Community Church:

Matthew (Elliott Lau), the painfully perfect leader of the group; the lustful and closeted Mark (Augustin J. Correro); the Beastie Boyish former addict Luke (Adam Mincks); the sensitive Latino nod to Menudo, Juan (Eddie Tavares); and Abraham (Darius T. Epps), the token African-American Jew. 

These hard-bodied hotties are on a mission to rid the world of guilt through their mind-boggling dance routines and soul-cleansing melodies in a satirical corporate-sponsored musical revival show. Song lyrics are as vapid you'd imagine a prepackaged, God-fearing pop group would be: “Jesus called me on my cell phone”. 

The show is loaded with this kind of intentional irony — the most glaring being the execution of the play itself. The heart of a real-world boy band is in the tight dance routines and extreme packaging; individual performers are secondary to the production. But director Shon M. Stacy reverses the focus; the members' relationships take center stage. Several dance numbers weren't quite N' Sync opening night, and the costumes scream street clothing. On the flip side, the character's interactions are as developed as this genre allows, suggesting real connection.

The cast is great. All of them are good-looking and capable as singers, dancers and actors. But Stacy's most interesting casting choice is Epps as Abraham. Like our new president, Abraham, the outsider of the group in both race and religion, is the guy the Boyz turn to for direction when things get serious. He keeps the group together through his strong values and vision of unity, ending the show on a positive note.

“Altar Boyz” is worth the ticket price if only to fully comprehend the premise that the American consumer wants more God. S
Richmond Triangle Players' “Altar Boyz” runs through Feb. 21 at the Metropolitan Community Church, 2501 Park Ave. Tickets are $20-$25. Visit www.rtriangle.org or call 346-8113.  This play is part of the 2009 Acts of Faith Festival with discussions following the 8 p.m. Feb. 6 performance and the 4 p.m. Feb. 8 performance.




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