On March 2 the Omaha Community Playhouse will make way for the opening of the concert-style musical Altar Boyz in the Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage Theatre.
Highly stylized with harmonic ballads and tightly synchronized choreography, Altar Boyz requires a talented bunch.
Director Susan Baer Collins gives her insight and understanding on how to work with a cast of “triple threats.”
“A true triple threat is an extremely strong actor, singer [and] dancer. So musical theatre these days, say in New York…that is the kind of caliber of performer,” Susan said. “Ultimately that means training in all three areas.” When it comes to singing, dancing and acting, Susan added that performers always have a stronger area.
All five of the cast members in Altar Boyz display a wide-range of talent in all three major categories.
Paul T. Hanson (Matthew)
Character Profile: Matthew is the self-proclaimed leader of the Altar Boyz. His physique, manor and attitude are well represented throughout the show.
Performer Profile: Paul has been into theatre since he was in first grade. He studied in New York at the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (AMDA). He earned a B.A. in theatre arts at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and when asked what he considers his strongest area Paul said, “triple threat…duh.” He later claimed that acting is his forté
Joseph T. O’Connor (Mark)
Character Profile: Mark is the “sweetest” Altar Boy. Mark’s innocence and quiet confidence makes him the most lovable member in a dynamic cast of characters.
Performer Profile: Besides going to the Rose Theatre in Omaha as a young child, Joseph got his start performing in elementary school plays. Joseph considers himself a singer and musician first. Interestingly enough, he and fellow cast member, David, perform in a local barbershop quartet.
Quinton Stewart (Luke)
Character Profile: Luke is the obvious “bad boy” of the group. He spent some time at a clinic rehabilitating from “exhaustion.” On the contrary, Luke’s performances are never lacking excitement. He brings it.
Performer Profile: Quinton has been performing since his show choir days in the seventh grade at Westside Middle School in Omaha. His talents have landed him on nationally televised events and competitions. Quinton considers himself a singer that can dance.
Roderick Cotton (Juan)
Character Profile: Juan is the group’s “Latin lover,” wooing the ladies with his Latin charm. Juan is an orphan who was raised by nuns in Tijuana. His undying search for his birth parents serves as a precursor to his undying faith in God. He also serves as the Boyz’ wardrobe designer.
Performer Profile: Roderick enjoys auditioning for shows all over the country. He was recently a cast member of Chicago and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at OCP where his dance numbers and song solos wowed audiences.
David J. Zenchuk (Abraham)
Character Profile: Abraham is the only Jewish member in a Christian boy band, and he solidifies his tolerant attitude and leadership within the group.
Performer Profile: David has been involved with theatre since the fourth grade. In high school he heavily participated in choir and honed his skills through voice and dance lessons. David considers his talent for singing his strongest area.
Melanie Walters, Altar Boyz choreographer, and an accomplished triple threat, said that it helps to have knowledge of the performer when choreographing a show. “A choreographer [needs] to be aware of what a singer needs to be focusing on when they’re doing their movement,” Melanie said. “You wouldn’t put a really intense movement where you’re holding notes for a long time. When you’re giving choreography you have those same ideas in mind.”
Collins added that there is a sense of gratification working with such talent. “There are times when I look at them and say, what would you do here? How would you respond to this?,” Susie said. “You’re going to physically do something in an ‘Altar Boy’ way, what do you do? You know it better than I do. Show me,” she added. “I feel very confidant and comfortable asking for their input, and I wouldn’t always necessarily do that.”
Don’t miss Altar Boyz in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre, March 2–25, Wednesday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $19-40 for adults and $24 for students. For groups of 15 or more, adult tickets are $29 and student tickets are $18. To purchase tickets or for more information, call (402) 553-0800, visit the Box Office or click here.
Article by Chad Cunningham