Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Theater Review: So You Think You Can Dance's Neil Haskell in Altar Boyz

Theater and reality TV is sometimes a delicious mix (Fantasia in The Color Purple, MTV's current Legally Blonde: The Search For Elle Woods) and other times a total disaster (Grease: You're the One That I Want). So I went into last night's performance of the long-running Off-Broadway hit Altar Boyz, now starring So You Think You Can Dance finalist Neil Haskell, both excited and with a healthy bit of skepticism.

Well, I'll was great!

I had seen the show several years ago when it first opened, then starring Friday Night Lights' Scott Porter, Legally Blonde: The Musical's Andy Karl, and the comic genius Tyler Maynard (now starring in Broadway's The Little Mermaid), and I'm happy to report that it was just as funny last night as it was back then. Much of that credit must go to Ryan Ratliff, who had me (and my friends) in stitches as Mark, the obviously gay member of the group in love with his fellow Altar Boy Matthew. With his physical and vocal tics and spot-on timing, he slayed me over and over and over again.

But what about Neil?

Clearly his dancing was fabulous -- he was effortlessly sexy in the group numbers, and totally shone in his solo moments. His singing, which I had been most concerned about, was actually better than expected -- not quite up to the level of his fellow castmembers, but certainly not an embarrassment. And though he was probably miscast as the tough, thuggish Luke, he acted the part with aplomb, landing lots of laughs with his deadpan delivery.

But let's be honest -- aside from his dancing, Neil's greatest strength is his smile. Oh -- that smile! Those dimples! He is truly one fine specimen of a man. And don't even get me started on that body...

I'm just saying. (Click here for some lovely [and revealing] photos of Neil)

Yep, I'd chalk this one up to another hit for the theater/reality TV connection. Between the laughs, the dancing, and the eye candy, Neil and the rest of the Boyz definitely merit a trip to New World Stages.

To purchase tickets to Altar Boyz, visit

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