Sin and Virtue

The food: a delicious vegetarian dinner


Angelwalk Theatre, a new independent theatre company, has opened up at the Toronto Centre for the Arts Studio Theatre., and the first show in its inaugural season is a local production of the long-running off-Broadway hit Altar Boyz.

I’ve heard Altar Boyz described as a funny, all-singing, all-dancing parody of boy bands, and I’ve often thought about seeing it in New York, but I never did. Partly because there were always shows higher on my priority list to see during my brief trips to the city, and partly because for a show to spoof Christian pop/rock, as Altar Boyz does, it has to feature Christian pop/rock (proselytizing not being my favourite thing).

The good news about the Angelwalk Theatre production of Altar Boyz is that its production values are high. A talented group of actor/singer/dancers work their asses off onstage, and hit all the (mostly corny) jokes, the notes, and the many energetic dance routines (how my heart is stirred to see a dance-based musical comedy where actors actually move while singing!).

The direction, by Tim French, keeps the show funny and lively, and his choreography is a delightful combination (and knowing send-up) of boy band hip-hop lite moves.

Most of the songs are pleasingly melodic (and parodic), and one of them, the pro-sexual abstinence “Something About You,” beautifully sung with cheesy faux sincerity (and tongue firmly in cheek) by Ken Chamberland as Matthew, sounds so sweetly schlocky it could have been a boy-band hit back in the day.

Other highlights of the production were the lovely choirboy soprano voice of Jeigh Madjus as Mark; the comedic acting of Aidan deSaliaz in the largely thankless (and sadly stereotypical) role of Juan; the athletic and accomplished dancing of Stephen Roberts as Abraham, the cutest and lone Jewish (don’t ask) Altar Boy; and Eric Morin (Luke)’s spot-on white homeboy impersonation (complete with doorag and basketball jersey).

With all that talent assembled and on display, an avowed atheist like me could almost tolerate the omnipresent Christian messages in the show. Almost. But what the hell, I recommend the show to musical theatre fans anyway (see it before it closes on October 11, 2009!) and I commend Angelwalk Theatre for putting on such a professional production of this rather weird concept of a show.

And if your idea of being virtuous runs less to sexual abstinence and more to interrupting a string of decadent, rich meals with an occasional delicious vegetarian meal like the one E and I cooked up recently and pictured here – featuring warm orzo with tomatoes, feta, chopped mint and olive oil; broccoli and cauliflower pan-fried with grated old cheddar, and eggplant slices coated with egg and panko breadcrumbs, drizzled with olive oil, and oven-roasted – then eat away, say I.


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