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Chriskirkpatrickmas: A Boy Band Musical - Edinburgh Fringe Festival (UK)

Reviewed by Justin Clarke

Pleasance Courtyard - Pleasance Two

14th-28th August

15:10 - 1 hour


Suitability: 12+ (Guideline)

Group: Pacey's Creek


- A “Christmas Carol” meets "It's a Wonderful Life" in this NSYNC-inspired musical. It’s a hidden Fringe gem!-

Imagine you’re lining up for a coffee in Starbucks and you see an older soul-patched man, feet shuffling and waiting for his order. You think to yourself, do I know him? Then it hits you, it’s Chris Kirkpatrick from NSYNC…but where is Justin Timberlake?

The all-female drag musical parody Chirskirkpatrickmas: A Boy Band Musical is joyously tongue-in-cheek as it follows founder of NSYNC, Chris Kirkpatrick on a Christmas-themed journey through time as he revisits the glory days of his famous boy band. Led by the angel version of Marky Mark - not Mark Whalberg, he’s very much alive - Chris is begged to reinvent his image and leave behind the NSYNC days.

Cast of Chriskirkpatrickmas: A Boy Band Musical. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod

It’s Christmas 2009 and four members of the band meet at Kirkpatrick’s house, instead of course Justin Timberlake (Nicole Wyland), he’s too busy having everything good happen to him. That leaves Lance (Riley Rose Critchlow), Joey (Elizabeth Ho) and JC (Mia-Carina Mollicone) to keep Chris company as he refuses to accept that NSYNC are finished and are instead on a hiatus.

This has taken ten years for the US group Pacey’s Creek to develop and let rip on the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Led by Alison Zatta (lyricist, book writer and director) as Marky Mark and songwriter Valen Shore as Chris Kirkpatrick, there is a great deal of fun to be had here. What could have easily have been a show written with cheap laughs aimed at the Boy Bands of the 90’s, is instead a cleverly thought out and slick production.

It’s clear that Shore and Zatta are NSYNC obsessed. There is too much knowledge of the key moments of the band’s history and career for this not to be a passion project. There’s comments that hold painful truths about boy bands, and the man at the centre of it all, Chris Kirkpatrick.

After a well-timed joke that the rights to NSYNC’s songs are too expensive to obtain, Zatta’s inspired lyrics and Shore’s musically gifted tunes guides the audience throughout. Each one has its own flavour and style to continue the story, with some even holding their own boy band-esque energy to them. Whilst individually, there aren’t many powerhouse vocals, it’s when the seven performers together harmonise as NSYNC that magic happens.

Officially a Theatre Thoughts Fringe Gem

Ironically (or not?) Wyland is the strongest singer as she sends up Timberlake with hilarious finesse. Wyland’s characterisation is wholly “sexyback” and pokes fun at Timberlake to the point that you can’t help but wonder if Zatta and Shore have their own grudge against JT for leaving the group.

As Kirkpatrick, Shore pours a lot of love into her portrayal, which is never really a pastiche caricature but instead wholly human. It’s clear that Shore has an abundance of fun playing him and was the obvious choice for telling the story through Kirkpatrick’s eyes.

Through its mix of being a Christmas show, biographical production and original musical, Chriskirkpatrickmas is officially a Theatre Thoughts Fringe Gem. If you hate boy bands, love boy bands or just want to support a long-gestating passion project, go and see it.


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