April 8, 2008

REVIEW: Boy band satire with a Christian twist

Altar Boyz
Showing: April 4-27, 2008 8:00 PM on Fridays & Saturday; 3:30 PM on Saturdays & Sundays at OnStage Greenbelt 1

Ever heard of an openly Christian boy band united by divine intervention? Well, this is the case for the five members Matthew, Mark, Luke, Abraham and Juan. (And yes, Abraham's Jewish.)

So what now? Well, Manila is the last stop of their "Raise the Praise" world tour and they bring all their "world-renowned" antics and songs with them. Their aim throughout the 75 minute concert is to unburden the souls of the audience through a counter, yes, a counter made by Sony (The so-called Soul Sensor DX-12). And as the numbers drop, their acts and performances increase.

And is it enjoyable? Well, it's pretty decent, but many of its jokes are dry and its "hip" resident, Luke, is trying too hard to be cool.

However, when viewed another way, Altar Boyz' satire of today's boy bands are spot-on, complete with a "sensitive" member, a supposedly heartthrob-ish frontman, and all the moves.

What's uncommon about it is the inclusion of a Latino member (Juan). Still, this member is portrayed stereotypically, and the writer knows it ("My [adoptive] mother taught me how to speak English with a Spanish accent."). However, it's still a minor gripe.

A bit of the comedy also lies in the songs. And when I say the songs, I mean the lyrics. For example, in the near end of a certain song about premarital sex prevention, leader Matthew gives it a suspenseful pause (I think it goes something like: "We'll have to wait 'till our wedding day, but until then I'm just gonna have to mastur... my faith."). And to cite another example, the "sensitive" Mark gives a speech about being discriminated because of the fact that he's "different", and that he has to go out to the world and say "I am a........ Catholic" which also brings me to the character himself. Mark is visibly smitten with Matthew, you can tell. He goes near him, he goes face to face with him, and snatches Matthew's towel from an audience member! He is probably the funniest thing in the play, but he's also the most annoying singer of the bunch (though I'm not saying he sounds bad). For the rest, though, the comedy is just too over-the-top to be funny, or just plain corny.

Plus, there's also this scene in the near end about disbanding. So it's a bit of a treat to witness a band breaking up on stage. Other highlights include, "The Confession Box" and... a beatboxing Jew?

The denouement is as corny as denouements can get, but overall, it's good to say that the play is tolerable and at times genuinely funny. The announcer (who announces how many minutes there are before the show starts) has changed to a corny one as well ("The Altar Boyz will be getting jiggy with it in -insert number- minutes.") but whatever, it's viewable.

Rating: 7/10

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