Review: Altar Boyz (Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre)

| December 5, 2017 | 0 Comments

Colin Schreier, Marco Tzunux and Steven Romero Schaeffer star in Altar Boyz            
         
  

Altar Boyz

Music & Lyrics by Gary Adler
   and Michael Patrick Walker
Book by Kevin Del Aguila
No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood (map)
thru Jan 14  |  tix: $34-$39  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets    
     


    
  

Fun and entertaining boy band parody

  

Steven Romero Schaeffer, Frankie Leo Bennett, Colin Schreier, Max DeTogne and Marco Tzunux

    
Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre presents
    
Altar Boyz

Review by Lauren Whalen

Boy bands: love them or hate them, a group of young men singing, dancing and inspiring new romantic feelings in others is part of the cultural zeitgeist. From the Jackson 5 to Back Street Boys to Big Time Rush, these groups are here to stay, and Altar Boyz embraces Frankie Leo Bennett, Max DeTogne and Steven Romero Schaeffer star in Altar Boyzwhat is most delightful about them. One of off-Broadway’s longest-running shows, Altar Boyz is a real-time concert of a Christian boy band who love singing and dancing, but love Jesus even more. Theo Ubique’s second-to-last production in the No Exit Café is a choreographer’s dream, with a fast-paced running time, a charismatic cast and catchy pop tunes.

The Altar Boyz are four good Catholics from Ohio: front man Matthew (Max DeTogne), tiny powerhouse Mark (Frankie Leo Bennett), bad-boy Luke (Colin Schreier) and sweet, flamboyant Juan (Marco Tzunux). Oh, and Abraham (Steven Romero Schaeffer), who is an excellent songwriter and proudly Jewish. The Boyz are on the last night of their “Raise the Praise” tour, and there are so many souls still to save! Thanks to the good people at Sony, the Altar Boyz can gauge precisely how many in the audience need the love of God, and are prepared to croon, rap and hoof until that number hits zero. But under their squeaky-clean exteriors, just how loyal are the Boyz to one another?

Max DeTogne, Steven Romero Schaeffer, Marco Tzunux, Frankie Leo Bennett and Colin SchreierColin Schreier, Marco Tzunux and Steven Romero Schaeffer star in Altar Boyz Colin Schreier, Steven Romero Schaeffer, Max DeTogne, Frankie Leo Bennett and Marco TzunuxFrankie Leo Bennett stars in Altar Boyz, Theo Ubique Cabaret TheatreMarco Tzunux, Steven Romero Schaeffer, Max DeTogne, Frankie Leo Bennett and Colin Schreier

Altar Boyz is a smart choice for Theo Ubique, as the musical has tremendous potential to bring in a younger audience. As well, it’s just as enjoyable for older subscribers. As much as one pooh-pooh’s boy bands in real life, it’s difficult to truly despise catchy pop (which is literally engineered to be pleasing to human ears and brains). Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker are gently tongue-in-cheek with songs like “Jesus Called Me On My Cell Phone” (updated to include a verse about Snapchat) and “Girl, You Make Me Want to Wait” (sung to a woman pulled from the audience, in true boy-band fashion). The character of Juan has a few problematic stereotypes, but overall the message of Altar Boyz is neither overly preachy nor mean-spirited. Director Courtney Crouse has a lot of fun with the staging, and choreographer Sawyer Smith, who won a 2016 Jeff Award for his work on Kokandy Productions’ Heathers: The Musical, does a bang-up job with hilariously accurate dance steps that would make the N*SYNC proud. Music director Jeremy Ramey (also a 2016 Jeff winner) is incredible as always, this time with a deep understanding of boy bands’ distinctive harmonies.

The “boys” themselves are well-cast, funny and distinctive while also working swimmingly as a group. DeTogne, a star of the Chicago musical theater scene, is a perfect front man, magnetic and adorably nonthreatening. Bennett’s Mark is a beautiful dancer with spot-on comic timing and a stellar solo toward the show’s end. Recently seen in Theo Ubique’s A New Brain, Schreier is perfect as slightly dim Luke, who has a propensity for “exhaustion” and takes pride in his mad van-driving skills. Tzunux gives Juan a lovely vulnerability and interacts well with the audience, and Schaeffer’s Abraham is so lovable it’s difficult not to go onstage and hug him. Altar Boyz may just be the most fun I’ve ever had at the No Exit Café, and the combination of cuteness, pop and passion is positively winning.

  
Rating: ★★★½
  

Altar Boyz continues through January 14th at No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood (map), with performances Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays and Saturdays 8pm, Sundays 7pm.  Tickets are $34-$39, and are available by phone (800.595.4849) or online through Tix.com (check for availability of half-price tickets). All unsold tickets are $20 at door with college ID, cash only.
More info at Theo-U.com
(Running time: 80 minutes, no intermission)

Steven Romero Schaeffer, Colin Schreier, Max DeTogne, Frankie Leo Bennett and Marco Tzunux

Photos by Cody Jolly 


  

artists

cast

Max DeTogne (Matthew), Frankie Leo Bennett (Mark), Colin Schreier (Luke), Marco Tzunux (Juan), Steven Romero Schaeffer (Abraham)

band

Jeremy Ramey (piano), Perry Cowdery (guitar), Carlos Mendoza (drums)

behind the scenes

Courtney Crouse (director), Jeremy Ramey (music director), Sawyer Smith (choreography), Mina Slater (production stage manager), Abigail Reed (scenic design), James Kolditz (lighting design), Kate Setzer Kamphausen (costume design), Cody Jolly (photos)

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Category: 2017 Reviews, Lauren Whalen, Musical, No Exit Cafe, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

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