By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated July 09, 2002 01:00 AM

While bandmate Lance Bass is eyeing the Milky Way, ‘N Sync’s Joey Fatone has his sights set on the Great White Way. The singer will make his Broadway debut on Aug. 5 in the long-running, Pulitzer Prize-winning musical “Rent.” The New York Times, heralding this cultural marriage of the worlds of musical theater and pop music, reports that Fatone, 25, is scheduled to play the role of Mark in the show, which is a contemporary take on the Puccini opera “La Boheme,” through Dec. 22. (Puccini’s Marcello, a struggling painter, was morphed into Mark, a struggling video artist, in the Jonathan Larson musical. The Times also calls Mark the “moral compass” of “Rent.”) “It’s just a cutting-edge kind of thing,” Fatone told The Times about auditioning for the show, admitting that he also gave some thought to trying out for Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” “It’s nice to have a chance to play a character, not just myself.” Fatone, who is rehearsing at an undisclosed midtown studio, told the paper that he has wanted to be in a Broadway show ever since he was in high school. (Fatone was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., though these days he lives in Orlando.) He is taking advantage of a gap in ‘N Sync’s touring schedule, says The Times, which is also what’s allowing Bass, 23, to pursue his dream of taking part in a potential space mission. Of course, everyone knows facing New York critics is far more dangerous.