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A bilingual and bicultural Christian young adults blog //////////////// 青年華裔基督徒的博客

The Altar Boyz Raise the Praise

Vickie

As a child of the ‘90s, I was reared in an era when jeans were flared, track pants were tearable, and the domineers of pop music came in harmonizing quintets of prepubescent spikey-haired boys. Needless to say, it was much to my delight that the popular Off-Broadway musical comedy, Altar Boyz, was going to be tackled by the Arts Club Theatre Company on the Granville Island Stage. The musical depicts a Christian boy band hailing from the Midwest who are on the last leg of their “Raise the Praise” tour. With the unrelenting determination to spread God’s Word through catchy pop beats and synchronized dance moves, the band periodically looks through the “Soul Sensor DX-12”, a machine that magically gauges the number of burdened souls in the theatre, a number that the Altar Boyz make it their goal to lower down to a clean and sanctified zero by the end of the concert. 

The band consists of Matthew, the indisputable leader of the band with classic boy-next-door charm. Then there’s Mark, the sensitive one with a resemblance to Lance Bass in more ways than a shared interest in space travel. A little ethnic flare is added by Juan, the adopted-by-nuns Latin success story, who, in true Vancouver fashion, is played by an Asian actor. Adding to the group is Luke, the obligatory bad boy of the group with a stint in rehab for “exhaustion” plaguing his past. And to round out the group is Abraham, the lone and seemingly misplaced Jewish fellow who finds himself to be more crucial to the band than initially thought. 

With hair rigidly standing on end, polo collars unyieldingly popped, and tongue firmly in cheek, the musical satirizes the boy band phenomenon and the nature of mainstream contemporary Christian music. Personally, I was fully bracing myself for a show rife with blatant jabs at Christianity. However, the only thing you may need to brace yourselves for is an evening saturated with boy band speak and suburban ghetto vernacular. Once you become acquainted with the lingo, you’ll find that Altar Boyz is never mean-spirited, but is rather a good-natured portrayal of a Christian boy band with story-lines and lyrics that are merely open to satirical interpretation.

Unwavering in their conviction that they are divinely called to bring salvation through their music, the Altar Boyz belt out lyrics such as “Jesus called me on my cell phone, no roaming charges were incurred” and perform songs such as one on church etiquette called “Church Rulez.” Complete with familiar instructions on the sit-down-stand-up nature of Sunday service and the obligatory greet-your-neighbour component, it undoubtedly left regular church-goers reeling with laughter as if they were in on an inside joke.

If nothing else, the breadth of talent and expertise used to put together this production is undeniable. The actors portraying the Altar Boyz are all true triple threats, with solid dynamic voices and unfaltering dance moves to match. Choreographer Sara-Jeanne Hosie enriches the story with befitting dance moves, brilliantly interweaving classic boy band moves such as those pioneered by the New Kids on the Block in “The Right Stuff”, the unavoidable “Bye Bye Bye” move from ‘N Sync, and even a timely tribute to the King of Pop himself with the incorporation of his infamous Moonwalk and the ubiquitous dance moves from “Thriller”. 

An evening of laughter and charmingly sweet pop songs, the Altar Boyz will leave me humming to their tunes long after they have departed for the next stop on their tour. The Boyz took to the Granville Island stage every night until August 29th—save for Sunday, because the Altar Boyz reserve a day for Sabbath to get their pray on, of course.  

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Welcome

"Double-edged"is bilingual blog in affiliation with Truth Monthly, a Chinese Christian monthly print publication based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

This blog features mostly original writings as well as comics, poetry, and other works of art by local Christian young adults.

For more information or to submit your own writing, please email tm.double.edged@gmail.com

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