Rating: [rate 5]
It’s no secret: I am a Christian, and I am a boyband fan. I am a self-confessed Backstreet Boys fan (sorry Julie, N Sync is just second on my list ^^), and I have spent some years of my life collecting stuff about them, playing their albums nonstop, crushing on Nick Carter, and even writing stories about them. I used to watch MTV all day just to catch their videos, even if I’ve watched that a million times before. I’ve moved on from that, but every now and then I still love singing boyband songs because they’re such great stress relievers.
So the moment I heard about Altar Boyz, a musical about a Christian boyband from Julie, I knew I just had to watch it. I am all for Christian rock/alternative (hello Switchfoot!), but I still have my boyband roots, and combining the two would just be fun.
And it was AWESOME.
Altar Boyz is about an openly Christian (Catholic, specifically) boyband with the same name, composed of Matthew (PJ Valerio) the leader, Mark (Red Concepcion) the sensitive one, Luke (Reuben Uy) the bad boy, Juan (Reb Atadero) the Spanish lover boy and finally, Abraham (Chevy Mercado) the Jewish guy, who all met in church and was given a “divine calling” (by Jet Pangan, who plays the voice of God) to share the Gospel through pop music.
The play was set in the last leg of the band’s Raise the Praise tour, meaning it was in concert format. Lots of singing and dancing (boyband dancing wohoo!) and even a “pick someone from the audience and sing to her” part, which is pretty much what you’d expect in a boyband concert. Of course, being Christian, the guys songs are all about God, they pray and there was even a “confession session”. And of course, the unique part of their concert was the Soul Sensor DX-12, which counts the number of burdened souls in the room. The guys’ goal is to get that number to zero at the end of the night with their songs and prayers.
Although the play is in concert style, each of the character’s stories unfold as the concert goes on. We learn about Juan’s family, Mark’s past, a bit of Luke’s bad boy tendencies, Abe’s feelings of being the only Jewish guy in the group and Matthew’s ambition. I was literally laughing the entire time with all the lines and songs, and being in a “concert”, it’s fun to scream and clap and shout when the boys are making you to (it’s just too bad the other people in the theater weren’t so keen on doing so). The story unfolded flawlessly, and I kind of wish it was longer because it was so much fun being in the audience!
Message wise, although it pokes fun with the concept of boybands and Christian music, I don’t find it offending at all. The play touched on a lot of things — faith, family, ambition, chastity, vices, and fitting in. The boys each represented a struggle that everyone goes through. Matthew with his goodness and being the leader led him to value his ambitions more than his friends. Although Mark never admitted that he was gay, it was clear during the play that he was struggling with it with the way he looked at Matthew. I don’t know about others, but I didn’t see this as him hiding himself because he is ashamed (because if you ask me, it was really obvious), but because he’s struggling for purity. I’m not sure if I got Luke’s right, but all his talk about “exhaustion” got me thinking that he’s a struggling with a vice, suggesting that he might have come from alcohol rehab. Juan’s moment with the news about his parents is the funniest and at the same time saddest moment of the show. Abraham’s Jewish background made him different from the rest, which made him wonder if he really was accepted by the group. These things makes the cast feel more human, even if they pose as boyband stars and have the calling to spread God’s word. Goes to show that even if you have a divine calling, you are still bound to fail and make mistakes…but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep on trying. :)
Now let me take this time (I know this review is insanely long already, but bear with me :D) to sing praises for the cast: YOU GUYS WERE AMAZING. I actually felt like I was in a boyband concert (sans the noisy screaming people of course T_T). I still can’t decide who’s my favorite among them, so for now let me just say I love them all: from PJ/Matthew’s truly boyband looks (really, really loved that Something About You serenade — I still wish it was me onstage, ha!), to Red/Mark’s
gay sensitive moments, Ryu/Luke’s outbursts and funny lines (WHAAAAT!? and I drive the van!), Reb/Juan’s Spanish accent and cute loverboy looks and that hilarious La Vida Eternal number and Chevy/Abraham’s dance moves and serious moments that gave the show the “ooomph” factor. :) And I would never forget the voice of God – Mr. Jet Pangan, even if I didn’t see you, you were an awesome voice of God. :P And hats off to everyone who worked behind the scenes of this play — you made it all kinds of awesome. :D
So will I recommend other people to watch Altar Boyz? Of course! Make time for it! WATCH IT! It’s definitely worth your cash and afternoon. My schedule is crazy this next weekends, but I AM going to watch it once again — come join me!
Altar Boyz Manila Details
Playdates: 04-27 April 2008
Venue: OnStage Greenbelt Makati
8pm on Friday and Saturday
3.30pm on Saturday and Sunday
Gold (reserved seating) Php 550
Silver (free seating) Php 350
Balcony (free seating) Php 250
Repertory Philippines Contact Details For further inquiries, please call Repertory Philippines at 887.0710 or visit their website