Monday, January 28, 2008

TBAF: America's Giving Challenge

The Bubel Aiken Foundation is participating in America's Giving Challenge in a quest to receive a $50,000 donation. To do so, TBAF needs to be in the Top 4 of total number of donations received. Right now TBAF is is fifth place. Each $10 (10.47 to cover the Credit card fee) helps. If you can help, please click the badge at the right.

Here is a message from Aron Hall of TBAF

Dear Friends and Supporters,

The Case Foundation and Parade Magazine have presented an incredible opportunity to non-profit organizations to not only reach out to friends and family and get them involved in what we are passionate about, but also to maximize the effect of our monetary donations. America’s Giving Challenge will conclude on January 31 at 3pm EST. Only 3 Days Left!!! The four US-based charities that receive the most donations ($10 minimum) will receive a $50,000 grant from the Case Foundation. The winners will also be featured in Parade Magazine which has a weekly readership of 72 million people!

The good news is that we have had over 1000 donations and the almost $14,000 that we will receive through the generous support will fund at least one camp that will open its doors to all children and give them the opportunity to experience all that life has to offer. The bad news is that after a week of being in fourth place and thus in the running for the winning grant, we have been passed and are sitting in fifth—71 donations behind as I write this. We must be in the top 4 to receive the additional $50,000!

Why is it important that not only you but also your friends and family participate? You can make a difference in the life of a child like Adam who had been kicked out of every program he had ever attended until he came to a Let’s ALL Play program where the extra staff gave him the attention he had been craving. He has now had 4 successful summers in our programs as well as seeing marked improvement in his school performance. You could open a door for a Lee who came to his first summer with almost no verbal or social skills. You can now find him playing kickball and talking at lunch with all his new friends.

So how can you help?

1. Make sure you’ve donated. There is no need to delay. Again, the deadline is this Thursday, January 31 at 3pm EST. Click on this link or copy and paste it into your browser to visit our badge and make a donation. Again, $10 is all you have to give.

2. Get the word out! Email, blog, and put the badge on your webpage! There is information on the badge about how to share it.

3. Phone-a-Friend—We believe that the charity that has surged to fourth may be doing a phone-a-thon or phone-a-friend type of campaign. So many emails (especially charity forwards) get deleted, that a friendly voice may make a huge difference!

“The Giving Challenge provides each of us the opportunity to magnify our impact on the lives of children. Thanks for all that you do!” TBAF Co-Founder Clay Aiken

Please join us in taking a tremendous opportunity to open doors for ALL children to participate fully in their communities!


Aron Hall
Director Services
Creating communities where ALL children can learn, live, and play together.
The Bubel/Aiken Foundation
8601 Six Forks Road
Suite 400
Raleigh, NC 27615
Phone: 919.882.2152
Fax: 919.882.2155

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Extra! Extra! Read All About Clay and Spamalot.

Associated Press Pictures:

Associated Press article:

Ex-Idol Clay Aiken Slips Into 'Spamalot'

By MARK KENNEDY, Associated Press Writer

Clay Aiken is trying to become the next American Idle.

The singer, who burst to fame during the second season of "American Idol," has made his Broadway debut in "Monty Python's Spamalot" — in creator Eric Idle's old role.

"There's a lot of pressure," Aiken says. "To think about how many people dream of doing something like this and to have the opportunity is pretty humbling."

Humbling, and possibly a little bit puzzling: What's a nice North Carolina boy with scant theater background and a penchant for pop lite doing in a scatological English stage comedy?


"One of the reasons that it intrigued me was that it was so different. Nobody I think would have expected me to show up in 'Spamalot,'" he says, laughing.

"It's very irreverent. ... I mean, my character soils his pants on stage multiple times."

This also is different territory for Aiken, who hasn't really acted much and was even cut from his high school's production of "Guys and Dolls." Just nailing the stage lingo has him rattled.

"I'm having to learn a whole new language. Upstage, downstage. I'm like, 'Upstage? What's that mean? Behind? Oh, got it. Why didn't you just say behind? ...' It makes me crazier than I already am."

Aiken, 29, has taken over the role of Sir Robin, the cowardly knight that Idle once played on film and David Hyde Pierce originated when the Tony Award-winning musical debuted in 2005.

"I think I'm probably just like the character — kind of chicken, afraid of everything and likes to sing. This particular character becomes a knight because he really just wants to sing and dance. He's so surprised when he finds out there's fighting involved. That kind of silly stupidity? — yeah, that's me."

Aiken, a performer who has sold 6 million CDs and continues to draw fans to his concerts, confesses to being sore and exhausted as he prepares for his debut. Aiken's first performance was Friday.

"Probably more preparation has gone into this than anything I've ever done," he says. "It's not just learning music and lines and even steps. It's mentally preparing yourself to do all of it at once."

Associate director Peter Lawrence says Aiken has been no idle diva; the singer asked to be treated like any other company member and has been surprisingly fearless.

"Clay really surprised me. When you meet him, he's this sweet kid from North Carolina with an accent. And you think there's no way he can do Cambridge material. And then he does," says Lawrence.

"It's been a total delight and a surprise for me and everyone in the company to work with Clay because he can do things you'd never imagine he could do."

The show is based on the film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," which came out in 1975. The film, in turn, grew out of the success of the cult BBC comedy series.

Aiken, it turns out, was a stranger to both.

"Until three months ago, I thought Monty Python was a person," he says, sheepishly.

Not surprisingly, the Python-Aiken partnership started poorly. After being courted by "Spamalot" producers a year ago, Aiken went to see the show and left befuddled.

And why not? He was expecting something like "The Phantom of the Opera" and instead saw characters slapped with fish, dancing plague corpses, a killer rabbit and cow tossing.

"It was, in my opinion, the stupidest thing ever produced," he recalls. "There's no plot."

Persuaded over the summer to return, Aiken finally got it. "It's just completely off-base. So I went in and realized that. You have to go understanding that they even advertise it as being the silliest thing ever. It really is."

That's something Python purists will be happy to hear. Even so, Aiken is bracing for criticism from die-hard fans who can be more caustic than Simon, Randy and Paula.

"I'm anticipating and expecting some sort of fallout. I think it's a little bit different when someone who's never done Broadway before, who may be more well known in the pop world, comes in to Broadway," he says.

"There's always this skepticism that they've been brought in for the wrong reasons or they didn't play their dues or they're not going to do their part well," he says.

"So I even told the choreographer and the director ahead of time, 'I don't want you to go easy on me. I want to do everything that everybody else does. Don't change things and make them easier for me,'" he adds, laughing. "I've since changed my mind."

Aiken, who got a degree in special education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, was teaching grade school kids with autism before he tried out for "Idol" in Atlanta. He was a former member of the Raleigh Boys Choir, and occasionally sang at weddings and at church.

"There's not really a market in North Carolina to sing for a living. There's not that career path for people. So I never really assumed or had any dreams or aspirations to sing," he says.

That changed in the seventh grade when his mother took him and a friend to a local production of the musical "Big River," starring Martin Moran as Huckleberry Finn.

"It was the first time ever that I looked on stage and saw people — you know, adults — singing. And I thought, 'Wow, wait a second. You can actually sing for a living?'" he recalls. "From that point on, I kind of allowed music to be a part of my what-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up scenario."

After finishing second to Ruben Studdard on "Idol," Aiken went on to release his debut CD "Measure of a Man," which went double platinum in 2003. His other albums are "Merry Christmas With Love" and "A Thousand Different Ways." He's currently working on his fourth CD, due possibly by May.

In one of the weirder twists of Aikens' Broadway debut, he looked down at the Playbill while catching a "Spamalot" performance before he officially signed on and saw a familiar name: Martin Moran as Sir Robin.

"So I'll take over Robin from the same person who you could say kind of inspired me to actually make music something that I would do," he says. "It's a very small world — kind of a full-circle thing".

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Opening Knight

January 18th made his auspicious Broadway debut. The fandom held its collective breath while Clay sang, danced, yodeled, spoke with an English accent, and hit his comedic marks. After the show more than one bottle of bubbley--real and imaginary was uncorked.

Some comments made by fans:

I knew Clay would be good, I never thought he would be THAT good -- the joy on his face (and his fellow castmates') at the curtain call lit up my heart!! Sir Galahad hugged his arm and patted him on the back (job well done) and the King gave a little special acknowledgment of Clay ... and that was so sweet .. it was a HUGE hope of mine that Clay would be accepted by the cast ... I think he has been ...


Oh what a night! I spent the night grinning and laughing out loud and I was not alone. The sold-out Schubert Theater pulsated with cheers for Clay and company.


He did it ...OMG HE DID IT!!! It's really hard to explain...that rush? The joy?? The utter just EEEEEEEEEEEEEE I felt last night. I couldn't stop cheeks had that feeling you get from grinning so long...and my throat hurt from the laughing and the cheering. But the feel the joy was bliss. It was contagious in the theater...inside and out. There was a nervousness...but when he took the stage...when his head peaked out that window of the guard all evaporated into....pure laughter and a heady...OMG OMG he is doing it...he really really is doing it. He was the part. He owned what he was doing. He wasn't Clay Aiken pop star up there. He was the guard and the accent was a joy to hear. The whole theater was so full of could feel it in the air. Love in abundance...and happy...and was amazing.


I don't think he messed up one line last random lyric generator...and if he couldn't if he did it doesn't matter one wit. He found his click. He really really has found his click.


Simon used to belong on Broadway like it was some diss to Clay. I used to respond that diss by saying that those that make it to Broadway are only the best of the best. Last night on the stage of the Shubert theater Clay Aiken proved those words to me.


The wonderful thing about Spamalot is that it is so out of the character of what someone who has the old notions of Clay Aiken would think that he would do...that his taking on this role is like a break me out of this box move for Clay. You rocked the stage Sir nailed it!!!


He was as you all know totally wonderful. His comedic timing and his expressions and of course the accent blew me away. I have no describe just how wonderful he was. I just kept laughing, smiling and even a few tears as I was so proud of him. Afterwards everyone was just walking around going OMG!! OMG!! He so totally ROCKED.


I thought Clay was fabulous and I consider that a gross understatement! The atmosphere was one of unbelievable anticipation, excitement, and joy and that comes nowhere close to telling you what it felt like. And the fact that I shared this experience with hundreds of my closest Clay Friends and Clay Aiken himself was the straw the stirred the drink. There are no words to describe it really. But if could bottle the atmosphere last night and sell it, I would be one rich woman! I would buy a lifetime supply of that essence and snort it three times a day for the rest of my life.


Upon reflection I still absolutely love what he accomplished last night. He was a singer, an actor, a consumate professional, an entertainer and yet still "our" Clay!
I loved, loved, loved his different accents! He did an amazing job and is better than some long time actors I have seen! No it wasn't perfect but it was close to "Spot On"
In fact since I loved it so much I bought a matinee ticket at 2 am this morning.
This post has been brought to you by the fangirliest fan ever and I'm loving it.


I laughed. I cried. I am very proud of him. He was adorable. Of I said that. His singing was spectacular. He pulled off the accent. He danced. He leered. He cursed. He was wonderful.


This is the most perfect THING for him. This part, this genre, this play, this city. Everything just worked. He frecking Blew.Me.Away. Lord, I want to hop on a bus and go back and see it again tomorrow.

Clay? Was a wonder!!! I expected him to be good. I didn't expect him to blow my mind. He was so natural, so... born to be on the stage. The best compliment I heard (and I heard it more than a few times) was people asking their neighbour - which one is Clay? He totally fit in up there on the stage. And he's only getting better!!! Incredible!!!

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Clay Aiken on Broadway: This Is The Knight

Opening night is finally here. After much preparation for the role: singing, dancing, acting, piano, interviews, and doing press, it is finally time for Clay to show the world not only does he belong on Broadway, but that Broadway is lucky to have him. Only the best singers are on Broadway, something Simon Cowell never seemed to wrap around his tiny pea-brain. It not the place for wannabe pop stars who can't make it on American Idol. It's for the elite-- the best singers, and the best actors. The performers have to bring it night after night; they have to engage the audience; they have to give a performance like it is the only one they are giving. There is no retake for that particular audience. There is no doubt in my mind, that Clay Aiken will bring it as he always does.

Spamalot is more than singing. In fact, singing is rather secondary to the comedic talents required for this musical. I have no doubt that Clay will shine since he is quite witty and has deft comedic timing. People who only know Clay Aiken the singer or Clay Aiken the humanitarian or Clay Aiken the media punching bag, will be quite surprised at his skill as a comedic actor. Mike Nichols, who has had an illustrious career and knows talent when he sees it, would not have cast him otherwise.


It's been a bonanza of publicity this week with all the press and entertainment shows. Two publicity photos have been released. Here is the first look at Sir Robin:

Clay did a backstage interview and tour for Entertianment Tonight. The YouTube video is below. After watching it one fan said what so many of us are feeling:

"I see a man just brimming with joy, adventure, excitement, and happy anticipation. And beneath that, I see a man at peace. I see someone who is living his dream. Someone who is loved and accepted. I think he's had a warm welcome. I see someone who belongs there. He is simply glowing, and it warms my heart."

Yes, he is and it does.

Last but not least here is Clay Aiken's bio up at the Spamalot Website:

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