'Altar Boyz' director responds to criticism

I am the Artistic Director of Oregon Cabaret Theatre and the director of the production "Altar Boyz" which was the subject of a letter from Aaron Beitler in Wednesday's Daily Tidings, the headline of which was "Altar Boyz deliberately mischaracterizes Christianity." I must dispute this statement as well as others in his letter.

I do not feel that our production is in any way negative on the subject of religion. On the contrary, I feel it is very positive on the subject. The characters have formed a "boy band" (a la N-Sync) to "spread His glorious word."

They are trying to reach their own peers, so their language is pop music and hip-hop dance &

and their metaphors are contemporary, such as "Jesus called me on my cell-phone," to describe their calling.

Speaking of their religion (Catholic), in this contemporary mode it may seem incongruous to some (and is, in fact, a source of a lot of the humor), but it is their way of spreading their message and is certainly not meant to be disrespectful.

The writer implies that the Cabaret has been deliberately misleading in our advertisements of the show. On our website we have a suitability page. This is what it says about Altar Boyz:

"This is a show about a Catholic boy band on a mission to save souls. It is a comedy but it does not make fun of religion. These are young guys of today expressing their spiritual faith in contemporary terms through the medium of pop music.

"Though there is a lot of humor resulting from their enthusiasm and their naivet&

233;, the boys are very sincere in their faith and the message is all about love and acceptance, belief in the Divine, and the need to 'work on your soul.' Those who feel that humor is inappropriate when combined with the subject of religion may find this show objectionable."

I stand by that description.

The writer claims that the play is "anti-Christian in its use of homosexual innuendo." One of the characters may be gay &

something that may appear obvious to us as the audience but that he is oblivious to.

One of the other characters is Jewish. What is he doing in a Catholic boy band? One of the strongest messages of the play is about acceptance and inclusiveness.

Another song has the refrain "everybody fits in God's great family" regardless of their race, gender, religion or imperfections. It seems the writer would not agree with this statement, but I submit that just because the attitudes presented in "Altar Boyz" do not match up with the writer's idea of Christianity it does not mean that we have tried to mislead anyone.

This show may not reflect everyone's views. We have had some other patrons who were not happy with its content but the great majority of our audiences have enjoyed it very much, finding it both funny and uplifting. On opening night we had a Catholic priest in the audience who laughed and applauded heartily throughout (I was sitting behind him), and who stated afterward that he "loved every minute of it" and planned to return with friends.

I am very sorry that Mr. Beitler was offended by our production. In these days of neo-conservativism on the one hand and political correctness on the other, people sometimes take offense at things that others find completely harmless. It is certainly not our intention to offend or mislead anyone.

Jim Giancarlo

Share This Story