Last year, during a spaghetti fundraiser dinner for his New Jersey high school drama club, freshman marketing major Brian Cook’s friend came up with an idea for a talent show.
“My friend was like, ‘Hey guys, what if we did a parody of a cheesy ’90s boy band?’” Cook said. “So I figured, ‘why not?’”
Cook and his friends formed the parody boy band, Six On The Beach, which will audition in New York City for NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” in January. The group often covers songs by The Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC.
Six On The Beach — which Cook described as a mash-up of Lonely Island and The Backstreet Boys — is made up of Cook and five of his friends from high school: Steve Piotrowski, Wes Hopkins, Chris Stavalone, Michael Trimble and Nick Hite.
“I think what makes us stand out is the fact that we’re making fun of ‘90s boy bands, but at the same time, everyone in it, with the exception of myself, has had years of vocal training and can actually hold their own on stage,” Cook said.
Piotrowski, who is a freshman entertainment and film production major at Rowan College at Gloucester County, in South Jersey, came up with the name for the group.
“I was in gym class one day writing things and came up with Six On The Beach,” Piotrowski said.
Six On The Beach’s first show only had 10 people in the audience at the Drama Club’s fundraiser, Cook said, but the group’s popularity grew when they performed at their school’s talent show and won first place in April.
Cook worked as a babysitter over the summer, and said the boy loved “America’s Got Talent” — it was his favorite show.
“We were watching some singing acts and I briefly mentioned that me and my friends did something like that in high school,” Cook said. “And he was like, ‘You guys should submit or something.’”
Cook went home after babysitting and started the auditioning process.
“It was like a weird process,” Cook said. “You have to submit a video and description on what you do and what you’re about.”
On Oct. 18, Cook received an email from a casting producer of “America’s Got Talent” and got the news that Six On The Beach would audition live for the show.
“I started flipping out and texted everybody,” Cook said.
He forwarded the acceptance email to his mother, Maureen Olson, who said she was surprised her son earned the opportunity to audition.
“I even Googled the casting director’s name just to make sure it was true,” she said.
“It’s surreal,” Cook said. “It’s not like an open casting call, it’s appointments.”
Olson said that the first time she saw the group perform was at Cook’s high school graduation party in her backyard.
“Brian was shy in grade school, and when we saw them perform our mouths just dropped,” she said. “I thought it was cute.”
Cook said he’s excited to audition for “America’s Got Talent.”
“We never even thought we would win our school’s talent show, so who knows?” he said. “I think if we really put our best foot forward, we’ll have a decent shot at going to California.”
Valerie McIntyre can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.