Joey Fatone Finds Broadway 'Exciting,' But 'A Lot Of Work'

'NSYNC singer to debut in 'Rent' on August 5.

As Justin Timberlake works on his solo album and Lance Bass prepares to go

into space, Joey Fatone isn't about to be the odd man out of 'NSYNC.

For his downtime during the boy band's hiatus, Fatone's broadening his

acting résumé to include the Great White Way — as the

lead in "Rent" (see [article id="1455986"]"'NSYNC's Joey Fatone

Struggles To Make 'Rent' "[/article]).

"It's very exciting," he said. "I've always wanted to do Broadway. ... About

a year ago I went and saw 'Rent,' and it was really cool, and I thought it

would be a cool show to do. It's so edgy and so based on real life. It's

something I would love to do, and now we have that window."

A modern retelling of Puccini's "La Bohème," the rock opera "Rent"

is set in New York's East Village. Where Puccini's Bohemian artists battled

star-crossed love, landlords and tuberculosis in 1830s Paris, the young

artists in "Rent" find that AIDS is their generation's scourge.

"It's a really touchy situation and subject, but it's something that's

real," Fatone said, "and something that should be heard, and that's why it's

such a great musical. You really got to focus on what the whole story is

about, and the whole idea of what 'Rent' is, how close-knit a family these

people are that are struggling to make ends meet and everything else."

Of the artists, lesbians, drag queens, drug addicts and street people that

comprise the 15-member cast, Fatone has not only the lead, but one of the

most straightforward parts — aspiring documentarian Mark Cohen,

"Rent"'s parallel character to "La Bohème"'s Marcello, the group's


"He's somewhat on the outside looking in," Fatone said of his character,

"and at the same time he's always seeing everyone's points of view and

what's going on in these people's lives. Sometimes he feels like he's left

alone. He had a girlfriend, his girlfriend left him for another woman, so he

has nobody. He has his friends, but no girlfriend now. He always keeps

coming back to his family, which is his friends."

Fatone said he originally auditioned for the part of Roger, a rock

songwriter who falls for HIV-infected dancer Mimi, but his voice wasn't high

enough. "Then they called me back the next day and said, 'Hey, can you come

back next week to audition for Mark?' " Fatone recalled. "And I said,

'Sure.' So I auditioned for Mark and ta-da, there you have it, I'm


For the past two weeks, Fatone has been preparing for his stint, slated to

start August 5 and run through December 22. His first few days of rehearsals

have found him blocking, practicing songs and doing character work-up.

Already, he's finding the schedule challenging.

"It's a lot of work, it really is," Fatone said. "It's obviously different

from touring, which is good and bad. I mean, it's good that I'm in one place

for a while, which is nice, than constantly having to travel around a lot.

But you do eight shows a week, that's what I'm doing. Usually [with 'NSYNC],

I'm doing five or six shows a week with two days off. Here you only have one

day off, and you do four shows over the weekend for matinees, so it's going

to be interesting on my voice."

In joining the cast of "Rent," Fatone adds to the ever-increasing list of

music stars making Broadway crossovers, a list that includes Sebastian Bach

("Jekyll & Hyde," see [article id="1425120"]"Sebastian Bach Does

Broadway"[/article]), Deborah Gibson ("Grease," "Beauty and the Beast," "Les

Misérables"), Aaron Carter ("Seussical the Musical"), Joan Jett ("The

Rocky Horror Picture Show"), Vanessa Williams ("Kiss of the Spider Woman,"

"Into the Woods") and Toni Braxton ("Beauty and the Beast," see [article id="1426558"]"Braxton Prepares For Stage Debut While

Recording Career In Limbo"[/article]).

"It's cool, it's fun, it's edgy, it's rock and roll, it's got a lot of

real-life stuff," Fatone said. "I think everybody will enjoy it if they

haven't seen it, and if you have seen it, come again because I'm in it. I'm

in it, can you believe that? Who would have thought?"