Album Review: Out Of Context: The Songs Of Michael Patrick Walker (2011)

“One night is sometimes all it takes”

Michael Patrick Walker is probably best known as the co-composer of Altar Boyz, a big off-Broadway hit, and though his 2011 album Out Of Context: The Songs Of Michael Patrick Walker contains a new version of one of the songs from that show, it contains much more besides, a collection of songs written for musicals in development, with other cut and stand-alone material, sung by the requisite company of Broadway colleagues doing their stuff.

On this evidence, Walker fits fairly neatly into the school of new musical theatre writing spearheaded by the likes of Jason Robert Brown – not in a particularly derivative way but rather in its fresh modernity and lyrical sparkiness. And as ever with these collections, the range of interpretations from singers both familiar and new to me brings a pleasing diversity to the collection which has been orchestrated and arranged by Walker in a real labour of love. Continue reading “Album Review: Out Of Context: The Songs Of Michael Patrick Walker (2011)”

Review: Altar Boyz, Greenwich Theatre

“Jesus called me on his cellphone”

A huge off-Broadway hit, Altar Boyz has taken its time to cross the pond but now Paul Taylor-Mills’ production has settled into Greenwich Theatre for a short run to help us cast off our sins. Hailing from small-town Ohio, the Altar Boyz are a Christian boyband who have reached the end of their ‘Raise the Praise’ tour and have one last concert in which to save as many souls as possible through the gift of their cheesy pop moves, confessional anecdotes and the divine technology of their ‘soul sensor’.

It would be easy to suggest that the music is blandly forgettable, the book laboured rather than funny as it just trifles with the notion of skewering this take on religion instead of actually lampooning it (Kevin Del Aguila, Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker all share credit for book, music and lyrics). And there’s truth in both propositions, but the strength of Steven Dexter’s direction and some highly astute work by casting director Will Burton means that the performance level elevates the material to a higher plane. Continue reading “Review: Altar Boyz, Greenwich Theatre”