Bringing the Boy Band Back … With a Hint of Christianity

QVegas February issuePublished in QVegas issue February 2010

Have no fear; Las Vegas souls will soon be saved.

On February 4th, the Altar Boyz, a Christian boy-band spoof, will join the Onyx Theater, with tongue-and-cheek songs like “Jesus Called Me on My Cell Phone” and “Something About You …makes me want to wait” in an attempt to save the souls of the audience members

Altar Boyz is a five member boy band, comprised of characters, Matthew, Mark, Luke, Juan and Abraham. With the help of their Sony Soul Sensor DX-12, which gauges the audience’s spirituality level, the Altar Boyz are determined to save all souls through their poppy lyrical messages and coordinated dance moves.

The show is fun, witty and will likely have audiences humming the songs for days.

Originally written for a Catholic youth group, the show is not meant to offend, and it has done remarkably well around the world, with performances spanning across the United States to Japan.

But the cast and crew hope the Vegas shows will be special. “It’s kind of ironic in Sin City to have this show come and perform in a typically gay theater,” said Mike Sheneman, artistic director.

The Las Vegas show has cast all Las Vegas locals, who are currently volunteering countless hours to perform nothing less than boy-band precision in both their live singing and dancing. Mark White, Nolan Christopher (also the choreographer), Aron Shanley, Christopher Autp and Taylor Hendricks are currently practicing four to five hours a day, sometimes doing doubles, to make sure the show is flawless.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have a cast that wants this to succeed as much or more than me. They are all volunteering their time at this point, and they all have other jobs and responsibilities outside rehearsing for Altar Boyz,” Sheneman said.

Although the cast and crew are tired trying to balance multiple jobs, and school in Hendricks’ case, and grueling rehearsals, the environment remains upbeat. Upon meeting the cast and crew, it’s one of the rare times that everyone was relaxed, could sit down for a few minutes and rub Bengay on their overworked muscles.

The boys have seamlessly fallen into their characters – a few of them admitting they dreamed about being in a boy band when they were younger – and they have that boy-band repartee down. They joke about age – Hendricks is just 20 years old while others in the group (we won’t name names) are in their 30s. “We put in long hours together, but at the end of the night, we’ll all go out and get a drink,” Sheneman said. “This cast has been the very best.”

And Sheneman has room to compare. Before moving here in September, he was directing this play in Wyoming. His production went on tour and performed around the country, closing the show in March 2009. But the show never came to Las Vegas, so when Sheneman moved here, he pitched the possibility of launching the show at the Onyx Theatre to Off-Strip Productions.

“We’ve been reluctant to announce our 2010 season,” said Michael Morse, executive director, co-owner and founder of Off-Strip Productions. “But Altar Boyz was the perfect way to start 2010 … Altar Boyz is probably going to be our crowning achievement thus far.”

“We felt [Altar Boyz] was a good fit with our other shows,” continued Randy Lange, the other half of Off-Strip Productions. “Naked Boys Singing and Altar Boyz will share the same stage, which is what happened when Altar Boyz was in New York.”

Altar Boyz will join resident Onyx Theatre shows: Naked Boy Singing, Karnival, Vegas Improv and Rocky Horror Picture Show. Due to its musical theater roots and some harbored sexual tension between two characters, Altar Boyz has typically done well among a gay crowd, Sheneman explained. But the show is not targeted to any one audience.

“Unless a person is ultra religious and serious and can’t laugh at it, everyone can enjoy this show,” Sheneman said.

Altar Boyz will premiere February 4th at 7pm at the Onyx Theatre inside The Rack located at 953 E Sahara #16. Tickets prices are $30 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster or the Onyx Theatre’s website.

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Katherine Fernelius

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