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    Complete archive, 1999-present

    2008-2009 reviews:
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    That "Sync"-ing feeling

    When two of its members are caught in an illicit embrace, will that spell doom for the boy vocal group of "All-American Boy" — or will it be the coverup that follows?


    Boy bands have been the stuff of teen dreams since The Monkees roamed the earth. Model-good looks and fluffy lyrics make for a perfect pinup, but would these manufactured music groups be as marketable if fans knew the male members preferred male members? That's the question posed in this amusing musical parody that skewers *N Sync and spears Britney.

    Written by: James Edwin Parker (book and lyrics).
    Directed by: Thomas Caruso.
    Cast: John Flynn, Bobby Hanson, Jim Holdridge, Don Mayo, Mark McDaniels, Kellie Overbey, Daniel Spiotta, Lucas Steele..
    Composer: Thomas Caruso.
    Sven Galli (Don Mayo), a shady creator of boy bands, is putting together his latest moneymaker, All American Boy. Most of the formulaic group's key members are already in place: There's Christopho (Jim Holdridge), the Latino one; BJ (Daniel Spiotta), the tough one; Nathan (Mark McDaniels), the clean-cut one; and Jake (Bobby Hanson), the athletic one. Still, the band seems to be lacking. Enter Wyatt Wilson (Lucas Steele), a wide-eyed innocent from Georgia who was raised by his grandma and grew up singing in the church choir. With his golden hair and golden voice, Wyatt personifies the group's moniker. Impressed with his looks and talent, Sven gives Wyatt the final spot and dubs him the virginal one.

    After intensive vocal training and countless dance lessons, the boys hit the road on a rigorous tour schedule that leaves little time for sowing oats. Desperate to get off, they go online. It is during one of these sessions that Nathan unknowingly meets Wyatt in a gay chat room. Veiled by their usernames, the boys arrange to hook up and soon discover that they are staying in adjoining rooms at the same hotel. Nathan makes his way to Wyatt's room to sort things out, but before either can speak, they are exchanging passionate kisses.

    Nathan denies that he is gay, and Sven, eager to protect the band and his wallet, fabricates a story that Nathan and pop princess Jasmine James, herself a closeted lesbian, have secretly been dating for months.  

    Sexuality kept secret, All American Boy ride a wave of success and make their way to New York, where they meet their screaming fans and perform on VTV, a TRL knockoff hosted by cheese whiz Cassidy Connell (John Flynn). Back at the Soho Grand that evening, a cleaning lady catches Wyatt and Nathan in a compromising position and alerts the media of her eyeful. Nathan denies that he is gay, and Sven, eager to protect the band and his wallet, fabricates a story that Nathan and pop princess Jasmine James, herself a closeted lesbian, have secretly been dating for months. When Wyatt refuses to lie about his sexuality, he is outed once again — this time from the group. He resolves to make it on his own, and the remaining boys must eventually cope with the ramifications of their decision and their own eventual downfall.

    "All American Boy" clocks in at approximately two hours, and one sometimes feels that it wouldn't hurt to lose a music number or two, as entertaining as they may be. (Standouts include a dance routine with blowup dolls and a testosterone-charged song about "beer goggles.") Despite its occasional treacly tone, which stresses being true to oneself, the show's overall effect is highly enjoyable, thanks in large part to the talented cast. The actors who make up the band possess great comedic timing and strong singing voices, injecting their musical numbers with flourishes of falsetto and melisma. Of particular note are Lucas Steele, who surprises with his slender build and stadium-sized pipes; Jim Holdridge, the "Latino" band member who must learn to speak with a Spanish accent; and supporting actors Kellie Overbey and John Flynn, who in their various guises, steal virtually every scene in which they appear.

    Although "All American Boy" is enjoying a successful limited run as part of the Fringe Festival, rumors abound that it could be heading to Broadway. Let's hope so: This is one boy band that deserves a long life span.

    AUGUST 21, 2002

    Reader comments on All-American Boy:

  • Thomas Caruso   from Valerie Stevens, Mar 15, 2003
  • Mark McDaniels   from James Woodward, Dec 15, 2003
  • Lucas Steele   from , Aug 1, 2004
  • Re: Lucas Steele   from Roxanne Brindle, Nov 24, 2004

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