Former pop star discovers new home onstage

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Former pop star discovers new home onstage

Joseph Mulrey McIntyre, better known as Joey McIntyre from his days with New Kids on the Block, recently spent a couple of weeks in Seoul performing in the musical "Tick, Tick ... Boom!" an autobiographical piece written by Jonathan Larson ("Rent").

Fresh from a run in New York, McIntyre stars as Jonathan, an impoverished songwriter about to turn the big three-oh with no signs of theatrical success. His girlfriend is itching to get married and move to small-town New England. His childhood friend has given up the struggle to be an actor for Gucci belts, a BMW and a high-powered corporate job. Jonathan starts wondering: Is selling out growing up?

"I have mental photographs of growing up in the theater with a couple close friends," McIntyre said between shows on his last weekend in Seoul. "I liked theater as a kid, but then New Kids came along and it was crazy." The band sold more than 50 million records from 1988 to 1994, and was a forerunner of today's boy bands. After the band broke up, McIntyre came out with two solo albums, composing his own songs for them.

In "Tick, Tick ... Boom!" his tenor voice gives his character a dimension of yearning, confusion and growing. He even sings a fun ditty, "Sugar," about the snack food Twinkies.

The 29-year-old spoke with the the Joong-Ang Ilbo English Edition between shows from the empty auditorium at Dong Sung Gallery.

Favorite snack for a sugar high: Oatmeal and raisin cookies

Favorite boy band: If I had a gun to my head, I would say 'NSync. I think they're talented. They've been handling their fame well, and enjoying the process. Plus, Justin [Timberlake] is sleeping with Britney Spears. [Spears repeatedly has told interviewers that she is a virgin.]

There's an obvious formula to the success of "boy bands," but I don't like when people start stamping labels. It gets crazy and demanding and you can implode.

Favorite musical: (Points to the stage) "Tick, Tick ... Boom!" It's funny, serious, traditional theater with rock-inspired music and it's set in New York, the greatest city in the world.

Favorite hangout in Seoul: My sisters have been telling me, "Will you get out of the hotel and see something?" I've been to Insa-dong, and I like the tiny streets.

Most important trait to you in friendship: Forgiveness.

If you could meet Larson, who died at age 35, what would you say to him? Thank- you for working as hard as you did to make music. No matter how hard it was, you know, the ups and downs, you did what you did. It wasn't about the hit show, but how it hit you. Thank-you for being an honest artist.

Differences between musical theater and being a pop star: Here, you're part of a team with a writer, director, designer. I'm not the boss. With my stuff, I call the shots.

Biggest regret: I don't believe in regrets.

The international cast turned in their last performance last Thursday. The musical will continue until March 3 with a Korean cast. For more information, call 02-766-3390.

by Joe Yong-hee

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