Off WestEnd Review: Altarboyz

Altarboyz was on at Greenwich Theatre, 3rd to 18th October 2014

Altarboyz was on at Greenwich Theatre, 3rd to 18th October 2014

Picture the scene. It’s the last night, not just a last night, but THE last night of a boy band’s world tour. This world tour is ‘Raise the Praise’ and the group are known as the Altarboyz – and this is the amusing premise for the musical comedy ‘Altarboyz’ that has just finished its first UK run at the Greenwich Theatre, London. The Altarboyz are formed of the biblical sounding Matthew (Liam Doyle), Mark (Jonny Fines), Luke (Jamie-Ray Hartshorne), Juan (Faisal Khodabukus) and Abraham (he’s Jewish – and played by Alex Jordan-Mills) and over the course of 90 minutes there were tears of laughter as the boys used the soul sinner calculator and every boy band cliche to soothe every sinning soul in the theatre.

This is to all intents and purposes, a no frills musical. The set is kept simple, as a boy band concert would do, and the music is as cheesy as you could ever expect. As mentioned earlier, the plot essentially is the audience – trying to convert everyone, and soothe their souls so they are closer to God. As the concert progresses we get to find out more about the group too – creating some of the most amusing parts, and ultimately the most heartbreaking.

As alluded to, this is a musical that relies on clich├ęs. There is of course, the gay member who predictably fancies the lead singer. There’s the edgy one – who has done time for ‘exhaustion’, and so the pattern continues. Also, if you think this is a show where the audience just sit and watch – think again – especially given the confession box outside the box office before the show starts, and the part of the musical entitled ‘Confession Sessions’!

The music is anthemic and catchy, whilst ripping it out of every single boy band that has ever existed at the same time. In another audience participation moment the boys grab an unsuspecting female audience member, put her on a pedestal and Matthew sings a song to her (whilst Mark predictably and jealously mimics behind her back – yep he’s the gay one!).

As one review has already put this, if you like comedy, you’ll love it, and if you like musicals, you’ll still love it. It is what it is, a 90 minute American boy band parody that couples boy band cliches with the American love for Christian inspired music. I’d also like to note that the concept is pretty flawless given the amount of mic failures that occurred when I saw it – making the show even more enjoyable simply because it doesn’t take itself seriously.

The only shame for this reviewer, is that it was a 14 performance limited run that finished last night (18th October). One very much hopes that following great success on and off Broadway, and now having made its first trip across the Atlantic to London, that it will only be a matter of time before this show gets wider exposure in the UK.

Altarboyz was on at the Greenwich Theatre from 3-18 October. Clips of the original musical can be widely accessed on YouTube… like this one here!