BOYGROOVE by Chris Craddock and Aaron Macri, directed by Kenneth Brown, with Andrew Bursey, Jon Paterson, Scott Walters and Matt Alden. Presented by Michael Rubinoff and Derrick Chua in association with BoyGroove Entertainment Inc at the Diesel Playhouse (56 Blue Jays Way). Previews from tomorrow (Friday, April 21), opens Wednesday (April 26) and runs to June 4, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Saturday 4 pm, Sunday 2 pm. $20-$36. 416-971-5656. Rating: NNNNN
Actor Scott Walters is a big fan of indie rock music like Metric and the Arcade Fire. Ask him what's on his iPod and he'll tell you the Flaming Lips, Radiohead and Thievery Corporation.
But for the next month and a half, his usual playlist will be put on pause while he harmonizes with his co-stars in the remount of last Fringe's big breakout hit, BoyGroove.
He plays Lance, one of four singers groomed for TV-style success and tabloid-magazine-style rumour mongering in Chris Craddock and Aaron Macri's darkly funny satire of the boy band phenomenon.
"The music is so perfectly mocked that by default it's really enjoyable to sing," says Walters, whose Lance comes out with a big revelation during the show's send-up of celebrity culture.
"I actually thought boy bands were in decline when the remount of the show happened last year. But then the Backstreet Boys released a new album in June. So I guess you never know."
BoyGroove is just one of many shows to emerge from Edmonton's Ribbit Productions, who formed in 2000 and toured the Fringe circuit with other comedies like Be A Man and Bouncers before catching on with BoyGroove in 2003. The remount won a Just For Laughs award at last year's Montreal Fringe and even got singled out by Oprah's magazine in a piece on fringe theatre.
All of which seems appropriate, since it's about the vagaries of celebrity.
Speaking of celebrity, because it's short-lived, some of the references have been updated for the revised production, which takes place at Second City's old home at 56 Blue Jays Way.
A little scenelet about femmy food-and-exercise guru Richard Simmons, for instance, has been replaced by one about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. A thinly veiled portrait of singer George Michael, however, remains.
"He's referred to, and you get to see his silhouette," says Walters. "As for riffs from people's songs, they have to be muddied and distorted through the magic of sound design."
Walters says he was never a fan of any of the boy bands. When pressed, he claims his favourite group was probably the Chipmunks.
"The ones who sang that Christmas song?" I ask.
"Yes," he says, deadpan. What a copout. Still, he's looking forward to the challenge of singing the songs well enough to parody, but convincingly enough to still put some sort of emotion across.
"My feeling is that if you like boy bands, you'll like the show," he says. "And if you hate them, you'll like it even more."