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June 8, 2022:

Chriskirkpatrickmas: A Boy Band Christmas Musical reviewed by Rob Stevens

What I knew about the musical phenomenon of the 1990s known at the Boy Band Era would easily fit on the tiniest of post-it notes before I viewed Chriskirkpatrickmas: A Boy Band Christmas Musical at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. I knew Lance Bass and Joey Fatone were members of NSYNC only because they appeared on Dancing with the Stars. I knew Marky Mark from his Calvin Klein underwear ads. So, it would probably help you enjoy the show even more if you had more Boy Band knowledge than I before entering the theatre. However, co-writers/co-lyricists Valen Shore and Alison Zatta do a good job of filling in the history of the group while also creating a nice mash-up of the holiday classics It’s A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. It’s a fun evening of music and parody. Shore also contributed the music while the duo also acted as co-directors.

(photos by Emily Lambert)

It’s Christmas Eve 2009 and Chris Kirkpatrick (Valen) is still moping and hoping for an NSYNC reunion years after the group took a hiatus in 2002. Marky Mark (Zatta), who died when Mark Wahlberg left The Funky Bunch to become a serious actor, is now an angel, sort of a rapper version of Life’s Clarence. He tries to convince Chris to re-invent himself and give up his reunion dream because it ain’t gonna happen. Lance (Riley Rose Critchlow), Joey (Elizabeth Ho) and JC (Mia-Carina Mollicone) have already fled Chris’s party, giving up on solo artist sensation Justin (Nicole Wyland) ever showing up. After a look at another Christmas Present scene, Justin entertaining his female fans with the show’s best tune, “Every Day Is Christmas (When You’re Me)”, Angel Marky takes Chris on a tour of his and the group’s past. When a disillusioned Chris wishes he had never formed the band, he gets a glimpse of what could have happened to his friends and the world without NSYNC. As the bell tolls midnight, Chris makes his wish and Marky succeeds in his mission.

The writing is tongue-in-cheek and cleverly plotted. The songs are tuneful, and Lili Fuller has provided some lively choreography, especially for Marky’s “Work It Out”. The all-female cast, including Emily Lambert as the group’s first manager, are all having fun with their gender reversed roles. The group vocals are fine but at times the individual voices are overcome by the music. Stronger voices would really help Chriskirkpatrickmas become its own holiday or Fringe Festival circuit staple.


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