You gotta hand it to whatever team assembled the cast of The All New Mickey Mouse Club back in the early 1990s. After scouring the country for talent, they managed to discover Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, Keri Russell, Ryan Gosling and JC Chasez when they were all complete unknowns barely into their teenage years. We’d be living in a pretty different pop-culture universe had these kids never wandered onto a TV set.
Before the advent of YouTube we were only able to catch brief glimpses of Mickey Mouse Club-era Justin and Britney on VH1 Before They Were Stars specials, but now hours of the stuff is available. Check out this 14-minute collection of Britney, Justin and Christina clips. It starts with Britney and Justin singing Prince’s “I Feel For You” with Dale Godboldo, who went on to act in such projects as Timecop 2: The Berlin Decision and Wanda at Large.
Next up, we get to see Britney back home in Kentwood, Louisiana. She rides around in go karts (“I feel the need for speed”), plays basketball (“they call me Air Britney”) and works in her grandmother’s seafood restaurant (“these are gonna be the best shrimp you ever had.”) She even demonstrates how to peel a crawfish. “The head is the best part,” she said. “I eat like a horse.”
We then take a visit with Justin Timberlake to Memphis, Tennessee. He rides on a monorail with his buddies, plays golf and even goes to Graceland. “It wouldn’t be Memphis without Elvis and Graceland,” he said. “The fanatics, they’re crazy, they just love Elvis.”
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When it’s Christina’s turn, she explains that although she comes from a small town in Pennsylvania, she’s going to show us around Orlando. She goes on her first horseback ride and comments on her horse’s split ends. Right before all that, she sings the living shit out of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.”
Disney cancelled the show in 1995 and Britney briefly thought her career was over. She moved back to Louisiana and enrolled in a regular high school, but soon enough, teen-oriented groups like Hanson and the Backstreet Boys began getting radio play and all sorts of new opportunities came around for the former cast of The All New Mickey Mouse Club.