"Call Me Adam" chats with the original cast of the hit Off-Broadway musical Altar Boyz, Andy Karl, Ryan Duncan, and David Josefsberg (due to scheduling Tyler Maynard was not able to be part of this interview) about their upcoming 10 Year Anniversary reunion concert at 54 Below on March 1 at 9:30pm and 11:30pm!
March 1, 2015 marks the 10th Anniversary of Altar Boyz opening Off-Broadway. To celebrate, 54 Below is bringing back a multitude of boyz, in addition to Andy, Ryan, David, and Tyler to perform their hit songs including Andrew Call, Jim Daly, Mitch Dean, Tim Dolan, James Royce Edwards, Carlos L. Encinias, Neil Haskell, Kevin Kern, Joey Khoury, Kyle Dean Massey, Travis Nesbitt, Mauricio Perez, Ryan J. Ratliff, Nick Sanchez, and Daniel Torres.
1. On March 1, you are performing at 54 Below to celebrate the 10 Year Anniversary of Altar Boyz. What are you looking forward to most about this celebration reunion concert?
Andy Karl: It's always the best feeling to see the cast that I felt a brotherhood with. That's what it's like really. Seeing my brothers, my family. No matter how much time has passed we always have a great time together.
Ryan Duncan: I'm really looking forward to singing with the Boyz again. The show is about brotherhood and it's hard to avoid when singing with the guys who I collaborated with to create the show. I'm also looking forward to hearing what our stories about the experience might be...and a wee bit nervous about them.
David Josefsberg: Altar Boyz was definitely one of my favorite shows to perform in. We had a real opportunity to put a lot of ourselves into our characters. So, probably, getting to get back into "Abe," singing these awesome songs....and most of all, getting to sing these harmonies with the guys!
2. What excites you about having this celebration at 54 Below?
Andy Karl: Always a pleasure to be at 54 Below I've appeared on stage and watched performances there. Your always gonna have a good time at FITTY-FOW-BALOW.
Ryan Duncan: I think that there will be fans and friends there to celebrate the show which excites me. It's also exciting that the show ran so long which is so rare nowadays for a book musical Off-Broadway.
David Josefsberg: I love 54 Below..it has become THE place to do it all for our community. Fantastic, classy space!
Andy Karl: I liken it to fans of New Kids On the Block going to one of their concerts. Good time to remember the fun and also see how old we've gotten...but they still "got it." They still got it.
Ryan Duncan: I hope the fans will enjoy some of the background stories and information that went into making the show. Also seeing some of their favorite replacements and understudies.
David Josefsberg: For those who have seen the show it will be amazing to see the different casts come together, and for newbees? I guess they get to see what I say is a great, great show!
4. For someone who has never seen Altar Boyz, what is one reason you would tell them to attend this reunion concert?
Andy Karl: Come hear the music that is really cleaver & cool, and characters that are hilarious. This show will live on and on with many companies because it's a rare piece of theatre that is a highly entertaining.
Ryan Duncan: The show has been done around the world and continues to be done around the country. I hope people that haven't seen it will go out and see one of these productions. It's a really special show. I think the night will be very accessible to those who don't know the show since we'll talk about creating a show with the composers and writer.
David Josefsberg: I would say to come see some old men playin....no, um, Altar Boyz was funny, had amazing songs, and was really moving 10 years ago.....and guess what...it still is! And who doesn't want to see Tony nominee Andy Karl and other Broadway folks riffing and beatboxing!
Andy Karl: My experience over the past ten years has made me so aware to look back and enjoy those wonderful times I had on stage. If I can even get close to what we felt every night back then, I will be more than thrilled.
Ryan Duncan: Oh, I think we'll perform with 10 more years of experience while giving the flavor of what we did back then. I know I'd get a kick out of guys that are well out of their 20s singing boyband songs anyway.
David Josefsberg: I have a feeling I will fall right back into 2005 Joberg....I have been singing the music in the car (with my 10 year old who was born just about the time we started rehearsals) and all the riffs and old feelings come flooding back!
6. If you had to pick one song from the show that you are looking most forward to performing at this 10 year anniversary celebration, which one would it be?
Andy Karl: I just hope I remember the words to my solo "Body Mind and Soul."
Ryan Duncan: I'm excited to sing the entire "La Vida" as I did on the album but I think "Number 918" will be a crack up. There's a riff I threw in there in the show and on the album that I'll laugh at as a personal joke with myself.
David Josefsberg: All of them....but for your question.....I will say "I Believe".......Maybe I can make it through without crying!
7. Two of my favorite songs in Altar Boyz are "Everybody Fits" and "I Believe." "Everybody Fits" is a song about how no matter what our differences are, everybody should feel like they belong. Can you tell me a time when you felt like you didn't belong? "I Believe" is a song about feeling lucky for meeting someone in your life. Who are one or two people that you are grateful you met in your life? What makes them important to you?
Ryan Duncan: I love "Everybody Fits" because firstly, who doesn't love puppets? But also the message of the show was inclusion, acceptance and love and I think that's why our audiences were so diverse from non-religious to clergy. I'm really proud that we didn't alienate anyone and we walked a great line that I think, made everybody fit into our Altar Boyz family...a real message of Jesus right? I have felt I didn't fit or belong several times during my life, one that comes to mind is continuing this youth group from one high school after I transferred to another high school which they called the "ghetto school." Aside from the fact that people don't know what ghetto is (cause they're trifling and racist), they treated me like I suddenly didn't belong. Some of the people were super-douchey...then my school beat them in EVERYTHING my senior year so...they can eat it.
"I Believe" ends with the Boyz all looking at each other. I love that. There are so many people in my life that I know I met for a reason and sometimes the circumstances were really less than desirable to meet them, but we were meant to be in each others' lives. I think sometimes oppression and frustration makes people bond in the right way. We're all connected. Some people though are there to teach us about ourselves, ya know, the ones you meet but need to cut loose after a while.
David Josefsberg: First of all, is everyone answering these questions? Because I see you picked two songs where I sing the lead....good choices (sorry guys)...Anyhoo, sure, I bet everyone, everywhere has felt like they didn't belong at some point. Being in theater as a kid? Being Jewish? Everyone has something. You just have to trust that we all have felt it, and it is all okay!
As for I believe....I will go with my wife Liz, who makes me better everyday, and my children, Cooper and Benji, who have made me the man I am today.
Andy Karl: Backstage whipping each other with a plastic boot-shoe-horn to get revved up for the show. Sounds awful but it was hilarious! and The friendships that only a fake-Christian-boy-band can bring.
Ryan Duncan: My Altar Boyz experiences were super dreamy. Exhausting and dreamy. The release of the cast album at the Virgin Megastore was great. Performing at the MTC Gala and the Drama Desk Awards were great. The way the audience took to the show was just amazing. It's rare to be a part of something that wonderful. Dressing room antics are cherished memories and I'm a little afraid of which ones will be shared on March 1.
David Josefsberg: Wow, dressing room whiffering, 3 years of creating the show before it happened Off-Broadway, the rotating television, tight harmonies, having my wife and Cooper (my son) at the show and thinking of his birth during "I Believe" (didn't get through that without crying), great friends, kick-ass dancing, Arbata, Shanky....so many!
9. What's the best advice you've ever received?
Andy Karl: Brush your teeth. Dental hygiene and fresh breath are a top priority for your health.
Ryan Duncan: Before I did Altar Boyz, someone told me to enjoy the down time I had. The time I had "nothing" going on, because soon you'll be really busy and wish you had a little break. Be grateful, remember how many people would love to do what you're doing. Also, it's for the audience or we wouldn't be there.
David Josefsberg: Wipe from front to back....wait that wasn't for me....um, you don't have to cry to make the audience cry (David Hyde Pierce)
Andy Karl: Aside from singing above an "A", I will try not to put any limits on myself. I will try everything.
Ryan Duncan: I've learned that the audience really informs your character and the show. When you finally get in front of an audience, you see what they need for their experience and what they need to get the story. It humbles you sometimes but really teaches me that it's for them. Being generous with your show and other actors on stage, enriches you. Also, you don't really need to poop before a show. It's just nerves. They lie to you.
David Josefsberg: That I am pretty good at hearing NO, until I can get to a YES!
11. How do you want to be remembered?
Andy Karl: Putting smiles on faces and affecting people's lives for the better. I hope that's how I'm remembered anyway.
Ryan Duncan: I want to be remembered for always being full-out. And having bouncy hair.
Andy Karl: Turning anything I want into money.
Ryan Duncan: My magical power would be to to make chicken wings appear when or wherever I want them.
David Josefsberg: I will ask my son Benji....he says Tiger power....I said what is that.....he said it means I can turn into a tiger....makes sense. Oh, and Nancy Opels vocal power....yes! P.S. come see Honeymoon in Vegas!
13. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what would the ingredients be?
Andy Karl: The Dancing Martini. Vodka, vermouth and pure adrenalin. Nice buzz and no sleep.
Ryan Duncan: If the drink was Altar Boyz themed: Juan's Bloody Maria Madre de Dios (Juan's Bloody Mary Mother of God). It would be a really spicy bloody mary with chili powder and garnished with a cross of celery with Jesus shaped bacon on it. Story: one time for Cinco de Mayo, I ("Juan") put out Mexican candies and decorations and trinkets on the merchandise table for the audience and the candy all had chili powder in them. Audience members were complaining and spitting up and I was told my candies created an issue. I felt terrible, but then I threw chiclets out at the end of the show and the audience seemed to get over it. Oops.
14. Boxers or Briefs?
Andy Karl: Boxer/briefs. Full coverage and keeps all things secure.
Ryan Duncan: Briefs!
David Josefsberg: Boxer Briefs!