Altar Boyz may seem an odd fit for Theo Ubique - given the over-the-top nature of the show, this Off-Broadway hit seems more appropriate for a late night revival. However, director Courtney Crouse has staged his production perfectly, resulting in a heavenly good time for the religious and non-believers alike.
The production is presented as the final stop on the Altar Boyz's tour, opening the door to explore the characters' relationships in exciting ways throughout the concert. Max DeTogne leads the band, and while he seems less committed to some of the more overtly comical moments, DeTogne's vocals are unmatched by his peers. He riffs, he runs, and he'll make you swoon.
Frankie Leo Bennett is the show's strongest overall performer - he is hilarious and heartbreaking, an incredible mover with a solid voice.. It's a shame that his character (Mark), along with Juan (played as honestly as possible by the very young Marco Tzunik) is such a stereotype. It's shocking that a script that premiered only 12 years ago is so filled with cliches when it comes to the 'other' characters - Mark is the flamboyant gay comic relief, and Juan struggles with his accent (and English) throughout. In 2017, lazy characters such as these just don't cut it anymore. Luckily, the talented ensemble makes the script's biggest issues almost work.
Sawyer Smith's choreography is fantastically fun, and the five members of the band do an excellent job of emulating his movement while also bringing their own characters into their actions. Smith wonderfully pokes fun at the cheesiest boy band moves while also injecting the production with slick and surprising numbers.
Altar Boyz isn't perfect. There are sound issues (the boys aren't wearing microphones) and their solo numbers don't always land as well as they do as a group. However, with such honest portrayals and energetic talent on stage, these Boyz could make a believer out of anyone.
Review by Cory Davis
Altar Boyz runs at No Exit Cafe through January 14, 2018. More info here.
The Hawk Chicago is included in TheatreInChicago's Review Round-Up.