Altar Boyz may not be a religious experience, but it's good for laughs, especially if you're one of those now-grown Catholic kids who was a) terrorized by nuns, b) terrified by the confessional booth, c) raised on "Church Rulez," as one of the show's songs goes, or d) all of the above.
But you need not be of Catholic upbringing to enjoy this good-natured spoof by Kevin Del Aguila (book) and Gary Adler and Michael Patrick (music and lyrics) that ran for 10 years Off-Broadway and is running through Sunday in University Heights as part of Diversionary Theatre's "On Stage at Diversionary Cabaret" series.
Produced and directed by Noah Longton, with choreography by associate producer Michael Mizerany (associate artistic director for Malashock Dance), Altar Boyz is not a Diversionary production—its next show is Pippin, opening in September. The Diversionary space works well enough for the one-act musical send-up, which presents us with five members of a Christian boy band—The Altar Boyz—performing the last gig on their "Raise the Praise" tour. The Boyz—Matthew (Hanz Enyeart), Mark (Hunter Schwarz), Luke (Shaun Tuazon), Juan (Patrick Mayuyu) and Abraham (Nicholas Sloan)—sing, dance and trade quips of the innuendo and benignly irreverent kind, culminating in a feel-good ending that wasn't really needed in a story without anything particularly at stake. We're told, courtesy of a tote-board "Soul Sensor," that our spiritual destinies are at stake, but that's all in fun.
The majority of the 12 songs are a crackup, especially the double-entendre-laden "Rhythm in Me" and the aforementioned "Church Rulez," which plays off the sitting-kneeling-standing calisthenics of participation at Mass. The real-life boys sound fine singing together, though none (well, maybe Sloan, as the Jewish member of the group, Abe) has a memorable voice on his own. A (quote-unquote) serious plot turn near the end seems forced, too, for a show as insouciant as this.
Throughout this cabaret production, there's a bar open for business right in the theater. If you don't mind scurrying in front of the stage on your way there and back, you can relive your abstinent youth with drink in hand.
Altar Boyz runs through Aug. 19 at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights. $20- $39. diversionary.org
The Lion in Winter: It's Christmastime in 1183, and King Henry II must decide which one of his three sons will be his successor to the throne. Opens Aug. 17 at On- Stage Playhouse in Chula Vista. onstageplayhouse.org
My Mother's Italian, My Father's Jewish & I'm Still in Therapy!: Yep, it's the one-man sequel to My Mother's Italian, My Father's Jewish, and I'm in Therapy!, written by and starring funnyman Steve Solomon. Presented by Le Roy Associates, it opens Aug. 15 at the Lyceum Space at Horton Plaza, Downtown.
The Mystery Plays: The one-act plays in question are The Filmmaker's Mystery and Ghost Children and take their cues from Alfred Hitchcock and The Twilight Zone. Presented by Ion Theatre, it runs in previews on Aug. 18, 23 and 24, and it opens for real on Aug. 25 at BLK- BOX @ 6th & Penn Theatre in Hillcrest. iontheatre.com
See How They Run: This World War II-era farce, set in Britain, takes the mistaken-identity device and runs wild with it. Currently in previews, it opens Aug. 17 at Lamb's Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org
The Music Man: A con man aims to scam the good folks of River City in the musical that brought us the timeless tune, "Shipoopi." Presented by Patio Playhouse, it runs through Aug. 25 at Kit Carson Park Amphitheatre in Escondido. patioplayhouse.com
Man of La Mancha: Don Quixote dreams the impossible dream, or so Miguel de Cervantes tells us, in this classic musical. Through Aug. 26 at Cygnet Theatre in Old Town. cygnettheatre.com
Wrinkles: A New Old Musical!: A song-filled day in the life of three couples who are wrinkled. Through Aug. 26 at Welk Resorts Theatre in Escondido. welktheatersandiego.com
God of Carnage: Two sets of ill-behaved parents fight over their sons' altercation in a park in this darkly comedic play, which originated in Switzerland and was adapted by Roman Polanski into the 2011 film Carnage. Through Sept. 2 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
Respect: A Musical Journey of Women: The evolution of women's roles in society is explored through past top-40 hits in this upbeat musical. Extended through Sept. 9 at the Lyceum Stage at Horton Plaza. lyceumevents.org
An Iliad: Homer's epic poem about the Trojan War is adapted, using contemporary language, into a one-man show by actor Denis O'Hare and director Lisa Peterson. Through Sept. 19 at La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.com
Inherit the Wind: The Old Globe takes on the classic fictionalized version of the true story of the Scopes "monkey trial," at the end of which a high-school teacher was convicted for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution. The 1955 play used the trial as a parallel to the McCarthyism of the era. Through Sept. 25 in the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre at The Old Globe in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
Richard III: King Edward IV's malicious, manipulative, murderous little brother lusts for England's throne, takes it and presides over a reign of terror in Shakespeare's history play. Through Sept. 29 in The Old Globe's Lowell Davies Festival Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
As You Like It: If it's a case of mistaken identity, it must be the Bard. The story of lovebirds Rosalind and Orlando in the Forest of Arden is part of The Old Globe's 2012 Shakespeare Festival. Through Sept. 30 in the Globe's Lowell Davies Festival Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
miXtape: Generation X was torn between disillusionment and hope in this cavalcade of music from the 1980s. Produced by Lamb's Players Theatre, it runs through Nov. 25 at the Horton Grand Theatre, Downtown. lambsplayers.org
Once Upon a Wedding: Zaniness abounds during a wedding gone horribly wrong, and it does so while patrons dine aboard a boat making its way around Mission Bay, beginning at the Bahia Resort Hotel. Runs on various dates through Dec. 13. onceuponaweddingthemusical.com
Crime Pays: A radio game show with dastardly overtones, served up with dinner, is presented by Mystery Cafe at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. mysterycafe.net