Musicals don't get breezier or prettier than "Altar Boyz," a faux rock concert performed by an N'Sync-style Christian boy band. From a conception by Marc Kessler and Ken Davenport, book writer Kevin Del Aguila provides slight story lines for the quintet, such as saving souls, the search for long-lost parents, and the forbidden love of one member for another.
"Boyz," though, is really about the music and its winking nod at organized religion. Here, Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker provide 13 giddy, infectious bubblegum songs for the boys' "set," underscored by Natasha Katz's lighting that keeps in step and beat with the boys, their band, and Christopher Gattelli's inspired synchronized dances.
Each "Boyz" performer gets at least one moment in the solo spotlight. Scott Porter's confident, charismatic Matthew has the romantic ballad "Something About You," in which he explains that he's saving himself for marriage. Ryan Duncan's thickly accented Juan displays a terrific and sensually passionate baritone in "La Vida Eternal."
Andy Karl's Luke garners laughs with his seemingly unending stream of dim thoughts. Karl rocks out on a funky tune that tells the audience, "You gotta work on your soul." David Josefsberg plays Abraham, the sexy mensch of the group, who happened to be dropping off a term paper he'd written for Luke when Shadoe Stevens' G.O.D. (his voice, that is) called the boys into service. Josefsberg delivers with aplomb the evening's silliest number, "Everybody Fits."
The biggest "breakout" for the guys is Mark's 11 o'clock number, "Epiphany." Here, Tyler Maynard channels Louis Armstrong, Helen Reddy, and other diva types to make Walker's over-the-top, defiant self-acceptance song a comic climax to the evening.
Director Stafford Arima has made this pretty-boy pop concert simply leap to life, filling the smallest moments between songs with zesty comedy. It's the icing on this grandly satisfying musical confection.