Altar Boyz

Altar Boyz

For those older than 15, boy bands have long been fodder for easy ridicule — stir in Christian rock and malicious burlesque becomes ripe for the picking. But in this outing by playwright Kevin Del Aguila, with songwriters Gary Adler & Michael Patrick Walker, derision is superseded by affection. The book is so sweet and the lyrics so gentle that the show lacks a satisfying satirical bite. But the good news is in the performances. Jesse Bradley, Clifford Bañagale, Jake Wesley Stewart, Robert Acinapura and Kelly Rice blend their disparate personalities, boyish charms and harmonic voices to create an ensemble that could easily play it straight for the right audiences. Choreographer Ameenah Kaplan takes great advantage of the boys’ uniform physical agility and athleticism, creating song-and-dance numbers far more entertaining than the overdone Catholic jokes. Musical director Christopher Lloyd Bratten and his band (Adam Halitzka, Nick Perez and Carson Schutze) are totally in synch, keeping the show bouncy and charming for 90 minutes. Michael Mullen’s too-precious rock costumes are terrific and amusing. Only the imminent threat of forced audience participation slightly dulls the luster. Celebration Theatre, 7051-B Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; through August 23. (323) 957-1884.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: July 10. Continues through Aug. 30, 2009