Get ready to be an Altarholic!
For the month of April, Repertory Philippines introduces a one-of-a-kind group that will alter your mind and your views on religion and acceptance. Altar Boyz, the winner of the 2005 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical, is now in Manila courtesy of REP. This concert and musical play will rock your world with its catchy songs and cool choreography.
Rem Zamora, marketing head of Repertory Philippines, explains the premise of this fun-filled musical. "The Altar Boyz are on the last leg of the Raise the Praise tour in Manila. Their mission is to spread the Word of God through the glory of sweet pop music. It's filled with high-energy songs, lots of dancing and, of course, comedy."
Four Catholic sacristans turned pop singers will team up with a Jewish boy to encourage people to keep the faith. The boys are aptly named after the authors of the four Gospels: Matthew (PJ Valerio), Luke (Reuben Uy), Mark (Red Concepcion), and Juan (Reb Atadero). Through divine intervention, they meet Abraham (Chevy Mercado), who often wears a skullcap to distinguish him as the Jewish member of the boy band.
The leader of the Altar Boyz, played by PJ Valerio, is seen regularly in GMA-7's Walang Tulugan with Master Showman and ABC-5's weekly show T.e.e.n.s (Ang Mundo Natin).
PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) interviewed him last March 28 at Greenbelt 3, Makati City, regarding his upcoming project.
"As Matthew, para akong Justin Timberlake of the group," explains PJ. "Ako ang leader of the group kasi ako ang nag-form ng boy band na 'to. Mga sacristan kami at may bago kaming member, si Abraham. Hindi siya sacristan kasi Jewish siya. Naging boy band kami and we're trying to save souls and we have a Soul Sensor [to count the number of souls saved]."
The Altar Boyz represent various demographics: Matthew is the leader of the group. Mark is the sensitive one and rather flamboyant. The audience knows the blond-haired member is gay, but no one else in the show knows or makes a fuss about his sexuality. Luke is the bad boy who can dance up a storm. Juan is the Hispanic guy who is quiet at times but has the potential to be a chick magnet. Abe (short for Abraham) is the proverbial fish out of water since he is the only Jew in a Catholic boy band.
Chari Arespacochaga of Avenue Q fame directs Altar Boyz while Jason Zamora of the Maneuvers choreographs the dance steps that are a blend of funk, popping and locking, gliding, breakdancing, and a bit of krump.
According to Ryu (Reuben's nickname), the Altar Boyz is a musical comedy about a boy band that has done the impossible: make Christian oriented pop music that appeals to the masses. When the boys presented sample song-and-dance numbers to the media and bloggers present during the March 28 press conference, it became apparent that Altar Boyz is an energetic play that will entertain kids and adults alike with its hip music and groovy dance moves.
Red, who plays the character of Mark, says it beautifully, "The main point of the musical is acceptance. The song that speaks to me the most is the song ‘Everybody Fits.' No matter who you are, there is room for you in God's kingdom when you just come to Him."
Director Chari Arespacochaga pointed out that they had a hard time casting the five boys to play the Altar Boyz. "It seems like just a concert but there's a lot of storytelling involved. They need to sing, they need to act, they need to dance. We had score cards in the auditions. Sing - fabulous! Dance - question mark. We needed to find a nice combination of young men for this boy band."
The concert-within-a-play Altar Boyz will be performed at the Onstage Theater Greenbelt 1 from April 4 to 27, 2008. Shows are scheduled on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3:30 pm. Tickets are priced at Php550, Php350, and Php 250. For tickets, reservations, and information call the Rep office at 8870710 or Ticketworld at 8919999.
You may also log on to www.repertory-philippines.com or www.ticketworld.com.ph. Tickets are also available at the REP office located at 2316 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City and at the gate before every performance.