CUTTING WIT, GREAT MUSIC & CUTE BOYZ
Director Osman Kabbara, musical director Josh Ransom and choreographer Criag Nhobbs are the team behind Miranda Musical Society’s production of the cult boy band musical ALTAR BOYZ at the Memorial School of Arts, Sutherland from June 12 to 21, 2015. Osman and Craig spoke to Stage Whispers about the show.
When did you first see Altar Boyz and what was your initial reaction to the show?
OSMAN: My first introduction to Altar Boyz was through our band’s second keyboard player, Andrew Howie. He said, “I am sure you are going to like this” and I was hooked from the start. When I discovered that a professional production was playing at the Seymour Centre back in 2008, well I just had to go. I went twice to the performance and never knew how funny and intricate this show was; I mean listening to the CD is one thing, but watching the comedic timing of the cast bringing the music that I had been devoted too, was just mind blowing. I knew that show was a perfect fit for the amateur theatre circuit. From the time that I found out that ORiGiN had the rights available, I have been bombarding presidents of local societies to give this show a chance, Miranda Musical Society had not finalised their mid-season show so after proposing this show to their committee, getting the green light, the production team of Craig Nhobbs (Choreographer) and Joshua Ransom (Musical Director) have been working hard on the back stage aspects of this production.
For me the show itself still hits the right comedic tones, with a complete Pop aesthetic, and for the reason alone never gets skipped on my playlist shuffle.
CRAIG: I first heard about Altar Boyz from Osman after we discovered our mutual and secret passion for boy bands! When I found out there was a musical which combined musical theatre and boy bands I was sold, and knew I had to choreograph it.
The show was a big hit off Broadway. Do you think Australian audiences will love it as much as the American audiences did?
OSMAN: I refer to Altar Boyz as the modern day Nunsense. I have seen many varied productions of Nunsense (even had the chance to stage manage the show) and know the reaction of the audience to the reverential Catholic humour. Australian audiences most definitely are in tune with this style of comedy. Besides the score, the script is well balanced to keep the audience entertained through the whole production.
What do you think this cast has that will make this show a special experience?
CRAIG: The cast of Altar Boyz have the right blend of passion and youthful energy which is electric to watch! Combine that with the cheesy boy band styling in choreography and music, this show will be one not too miss.
OSMAN: The cast of five boyz bonded instantly over the music and script, we had every intention to take the cast out on bonding excursions, due to the nature of only having a small cast but they have exceeded our expectations and provide us with examples of performances that we never envisaged. The boyz comfort and camaraderie to each other pushes us to deliver a stand out production.
Do you have a favourite character, and if so, why?
CRAIG: I think all five characters in this show have elements which make them my favourite so I definitely can't pick one but I think the audience will leave with a soft spot for Mark!
Do you enjoy creating “boyband“ choreography? Are there any challenges?
CRAIG: I remember as a child waking up early every Saturday morning to sit in front of the video recorder waiting to press "record" when the Backstreet Boys or N*Sync videos came on just so I could watch them later and learn the dance moves so that's a big YES from me! There's something so exciting to me about the corny & lovable 90's moves so recreating them has been so much fun.
What has been your favourite show to direct/musical direct/choreograph so far and why?
OSMAN: For me Altar Boyz has been a show that I have been working towards for many years, the process, from working out movements and musical styling with the production team, to casting, rehearsing, and eventually having an audience experience this production will most definitely be my favourite.
CRAIG: That's a really tough question as I have been fortunate enough to be able to work on some of my dream shows already! My top 3 would be Hairspray (RMS), Hot Shoe Shuffle (Birdie Productions) and most recently Legally Blonde (Engadine) because of the stylised choreography and epic dance numbers in each.
What do you think will make the Memorial Hall the perfect venue for this show? And, why do you think audiences need to check it out?
OSMAN: It is indeed a rare occasion when a musical society takes on-board a show that (A) is an amateur premiere, and (B) Not a show that most people know … Miranda Musical Society have believed in the production team from the start and also believed in the show’s over 2500 performances off-Broadway. The Memorial School of Arts Hall is an intimate venue which fits into the structure of the show.
Who should see this show? Is it suitable for everyone?
OSMAN: Altar Boyz takes a satirical look at both the boy band and Christian music phenomena. First staged in 1994 the show's longevity is testament to its quality. Cutting wit, good tunes and cute boys - this musical is a definite crowd-pleaser. From the seasoned theatre goer to the initiate, this show delivers the perfect balance of comedy and boy band styling to get everyone raving about the amazing Altar Boyz.
Top image: Creative team Osman Kabbara, Josh Ransom and Craig Nhobbs
Miranda Musical Society Presents
Music and Lyrics by Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker
8PM Shows - June 12, 13, 17,19, 20
2PM Shows - June 13, 14, 20, 21
Memorial School of Arts, East Pde, Sutherland
Online Bookings: www.mirandamusicalsociety.com.au
Phone Bookings: (02) 8814 5827