Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada
Ten plays in repertory through November 11, with She Loves Me continuing through December 10
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The words to Britney Spears's first big hit, "Baby One More Time," the title track from her 1999 debut, can practically be sung over the refrain of the title track to her follow-up, Oops! . . . I Did It Again, and you wouldn't notice the difference. In fact, it's telling that Spears's brief reign as pop music queen started when she became a member of the Mickey Mouse Club at age 11 and has quickly fallen into a repetitive pattern. The saccharine teen pop scene that Spears epitomizes is filled with artists who not only sound alike, but march through similar dance routines and even look alike (there's not much separating Spears from blonde bombshells such as Mandy Moore and Christina Aguilera). Though Spears might be one of the prettiest faces in the bunch, she's not the most talented and not any different from her most obvious predecessors: Debbie Gibson, New Kids on the Block, and even the original boy toy, Madonna. Spears explores simplistic adolescent themes in songs such as "From the Bottom of My Broken Heart," and on Oops, she attempts to display her musical knowledge with a cover of the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." The problem is that her rendition of the song is lackluster and contrived. The real question is whether Spears, who's constantly being featured on MTV and has been on the cover of Rolling Stone twice in two years, has the acumen to parlay her talents (an acting gig can't be far away) and superstar name into a career, or whether she will fizzle into obscurity and anonymity. Lip-synching her way through concerts is just one way to ensure her fate as a forgotten pop icon.