A new generation of theatregoer has been discovering Broadway's Rent since Aug. 5, when 'N Sync star Joey Fatone made his Broadway debut playing the unsure filmmaker, Mark.
On Aug. 28, Fatone, a member of the internationally successful boy band 'N Sync, officially opens in the show, and critics will likely weigh in on his work — and the shape of the six-year-old Pulitzer and Tony Award winning musical by the late Jonathan Larson. The week of Aug. 5, capacity at the Nederlander Theatre in Fatone's first week was at about 93 percent, compared to 73 percent the week before, without Fatone.
"Hopefully, Joey is going to bring in tens of thousands of new audience members who I believe will be converted to Rent-heads, who will keep us going for the next couple years," Rent producer Jeffrey Seller told Playbill On Line. "Girls who were eight [when Rent started] were not going to see Rent, but now they're 14 and they would go see Rent."
That 14-year-old demographic happens to be Joey Fatone's fan base.
* Mark is the struggling artist who captures the events of his east Village friends' lives on film, Fatone will have the chance to sing such Larson tunes as "Rent," "You'll See," "Tango: Maureen," "La Vie Boheme," "Halloween" and "What You Own."
Fatone began rehearsals July 8. Full page ads of Fatone in Rent appeared in New York papers Aug. 2. He is scheduled to star in the musical through Dec. 22. About the famed work, which is loosely based on La Bohème, Fatone told the New York Times that "it's just a cutting edge kind of thing. It's nice to have a chance to play a character, not just be myself." The rock star also explained that he has wanted to star in a Broadway musical since high school and also thought about auditioning for Disney's Beauty and the Beast.
Concerning the lives of a group of friends in New York's East Village, Rent premiered on Broadway on April 29, 1996, following the tragic death of its young composer-lyricist librettist (prior to the earlier Off Broadway debut).
The original company boasted Anthony Rapp, Adam Pascal, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Idina Menzel, Jesse Martin and Tony winner Wilson Jermaine Heredia. The current cast comprises Manley Pope (Roger), Matt Caplan (Mark), Mark Richard Ford (Tom Collins), Jai Rodriguez (Angel), Karmine Alers (Mimi) and Maggie Benjamin (Maureen).
Joseph Anthony Fatone Jr. was born in Brooklyn, NY, in January 1977. The young singer worked at Universal Studios before joining the now world famous band 'N Sync, whose albums include "'N Sync," "The Winter Album," "Home for Christmas" and "No Strings Attached." Also an actor, Fatone currently stars as Angelo in the film "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." His other film credits include "On the Line" and "Longshot."
Rent plays the Nederlander Theatre, 208 W. 41st Street. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster, (212) 307-4100.