Friday, February 29, 2008

CD News: The countdown begins!!

Clay Aiken CD News

Finally the moment we for which we have been waiting, news on the new CD which will hopefully be out on May 6th or at least before the summer. Clay announced on at this link. There are three videos related to the new album, so make sure you don't miss any.

Clay's theme for the album grew out of a song submitted to him called "On The Way Here", which was written by Ryan Tedder of One Republic. After listening to the lyrics, he noticed that several songs under consideration had the same theme of journey and growth, so the theme of Clay's journey over the last five years was born.

Here are the lyrics:

On My Way Here

I took my first step
On that black and white kitchen floor
I sometimes wonder if that house
Is even there, anymore
I had my first glimpse of love
When I was five
I watched two people split apart
But still the three of us survived

I’ve seen the best
I’ve seen the worst
I wouldn’t change what I’ve been through
I’ve touched the sky
I’ve hit the wall
But I did what I had to

On my way here
Where I am now
I’ve learned to fly
I have to want to leave the ground
I’ve fallen hard
But I’ve been loved
And in the end it all works out
My faith has conquered fear
On my way here.

Oh yeah yeaaah

My address has changed
Almost every year
I've found that standing still
Can quickly make a lifetime disappear
I'd rather try and fail
A thousand times denied
And this, whenever you feel pain
It lets you know that you’re alive

I’ve been a fool
I’ve been afraid
Yeah, I’ve been loved
I've been lied to
I've been wrong
And I've been right
I stood up when I had to

Yeah Yeahhhh

On my way here
Where I am now
I’ve learned to fly
I have to want to leave the ground
I’ve fallen hard
But I’ve been loved
And in the end it all works out
My faith has conquered fear
On my way here.

No guarantees
I believed that I would find
An open door or a light
To lead me to the other side
I guess that is why

On my way here
Where I am now
I’ve learned to fly
I have to want to leave the ground
I’ve fallen hard
But I‘ve been loved
And in the end it all works out
My faith has conquered fear
On my way here


Here's a cute montage that previews clips of three songs that should be on the album:

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Not a Debut For Cowards!

One fan recently remarked that if the reviews of Clay's performance in Spamalot weren't good, she would be calling the reviewer a liar. You might think, "what else would a fan say", but the truth is everything Clay Aiken does is analyzed to the nth degree by the fandom. In many ways, some fans are harder on him than any critic could be, but with Spamalot there is seemingly universal agreement that he taken this role, and kicked it to the curb. The great thing is that he is totally out of his comfort zone. He's not exactly experienced in dancing and acting. Singing yes, but not doing it while acting and dancing. He has surpassed fans' expectations with this role and hopefully his own. He might just have found his grail on Broadway or at least part of his grail.

Review by Newsday :

Review: Clay Aiken fits as Sir Robin in 'Spamalot


Hey, it's not dead yet. In the words of one of the supremely goofy bad-taste delights from "Monty Python's Spamalot," the musical may be approaching its third year at the Shubert Theatre. But the thing's not dead yet - in fact, not even close.

Forgive our suspicion that "Spamalot" might have reached the uh-oh point in its heretofore long and happy run. After all, Clay Aiken, unknown until he was the runner-up in the second season of "American Idol," had been cast, with alarming hoopla, to play Sir Robin and assorted zanies - in a British accent, in a role created on film by (author, lyricist, co-composer) Eric Idle himself and recreated on Broadway by David Hyde Pierce.

We know that Fantasia, Aiken's fellow breakout survivor from gladiator TV, had a phenomenal stage debut last year as a replacement for the star in "The Color Purple." But what are the chances that another newbie from the South with zero stage experience would be able to slip into a high-maintenance Broadway hit without dragging it down like a boulder tied to its soft shoe?

So it's excellent news for Aiken and "Spamalot," not so good for drama schools. Aiken is a charmer. With his aging cherub face and a frizzle-pageboy wig, he goes sweetly and deftly Medieval on Broadway - a world described in the show as "a very special place with people who can sing and dance, often at the same time."And so he does, frequently at the same time. Aiken blends into the sophomoric adorableness of the show, even toying with his own girlish charisma at a piano topped with a Liberace candelabra. His voice has range and color. He dances with a childlike skip, he yodels and sings falsetto and gets through the scenes when Robin "soils himself" with no visible humiliation. This is not a debut for cowards.

Overall, Mike Nichols' cartoon spectacle has been spiffily maintained. The actors - including Jonathan Hadary's little-king Arthur, Christopher Sieber's droll Galahad, David Hibbard's loyal Patsy and Rick Holmes' thoroughly demented French Taunter - play with the abandon of bright kids discovering a new toy. Hannah Waddingham is a force of nature as the many faces and voices of the Lady of the Lake.

For the record, Britney Spears' name has indeed been replaced by Posh Spice in the "Diva's Lament," because, according to the creators, "we don't laugh at sad people." They do, however, laugh at just about everyone else, from Jews to gays to the Finnish. And they still sell the best show-related merchandise on Broadway. Killer-rabbit bunny slippers? Nice touch.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Clay Aiken: Supremely Silly

An Associated Press Theater Review

Clay Aiken deftly handles supremely silly in `Monty Python's Spamalot'


Let's clear things up right away: Clay Aiken can handlesupremely silly.That's not an inconsiderable talent when you are appearing insomething as daffy as "Monty Python's Spamalot," the madcap medieval musicalthat has just added the "American Idol" alum to its cast.We knew Aiken couldsing. "Idol," television's favorite trial-by-fire, proved that. So it was onlynatural that Broadway, eager for new faces that might sell tickets, would call —just as it did for Fantasia, Frenchie Davis, Constantine Maroulis and othersfrom "Idol."But don't go expecting a star turn. Aiken is a team player — andthat's meant as a compliment. The ingratiating performer fits seamlessly intothe extended high jinks of "Spamalot," which has been running at the ShubertTheatre since March 2005.The guy gets the goofy humor that is the Pythontrademark and goes with the flow, most prominently when he is portraying theperpetually petrified Sir Robin. It's one of three roles he plays in themusical.Aiken also exudes the physical buffoonery that underlines thecartoonlike nature of the characters and their quest to find the Holy Grail. Heradiates a delightful benign bewilderment. What's more, for someone born andraised in North Carolina, Aiken does a credible British accent.And the rest ofthe production, directed by Mike Nichols, holds up quite nicely, too. The tale,concocted by "Python" legend Eric Idle, is loosely based on the movie "MontyPython and the Holy Grail," and film buffs will recognize some of their favoritebits from the film. Idle also wrote the lyrics and shares credit with John DuPrez for the music.If there is anything approaching show-stopper status in this"Spamalot," it's the performance by Hannah Waddingham as the Lady of the Lake.The statuesque Waddingham, who originated the role in the London production, issensational. She's funny, sexy and blessed with one of those powerhouse voicesthat really shakes up the score.But then Nichols and choreographer CaseyNicholaw have kept the musical in tiptop shape. From Jonathan Hadary's robustKing Arthur to the preening Galahad of Christopher Sieber (an original New Yorkcast member who recently returned to the show) to Rick Holmes' sexually fluidLancelot, the cast gets a high amount of laughs from low comedy.And then there'sTom Deckman as the hilariously fey Prince Herbert and David Hibbard as the aptlynamed Patsy, singing and tapping his way through the show's best known moment ofmusical cheer, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life." This is ensemble comiclunacy at its most inspired.But attention Aiken fans. He appears in "MontyPython's Spamalot" only through May 4.

MICHAEL KUCHWARA has been the drama critic and drama writer for the Associated Press since 1984. Before being named to that position, he worked for the AP in Chicago as a general assignment editor and reporter and in New York on its General (now the National) Desk, the main editing desk for national news. Born in Scranton, Pa., he is a graduate of Syracuse University. Kuchwara also has a master's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. Kuchwara is a past president of the New York Drama Critics' Circle.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Telling It Like It Is

~Valentine grahic by llbun~

There been a second wave of promotion this week for Spamalot. First up was a fantastic interview for which you can find at this Link. The writer/interviewer Kathy Henderson could give that snooty Ariel Levy a lesson or two in getting a good interview out of her subject and treating them with respect.

~~~Some selected excerpts~~~

I particulary loved the opening paragraph:

Everybody knows that Clay Aiken can sing, but—surprise!—he can also hold his own on a Broadway stage. To be more precise, he can hula, ogle scantily clad girls, discuss flying coconuts in a British accent, pretend to poop in his tunic, do a Cossack-style line dance and perform a lightning-fast patter song ("You won't succeed on Broadway if you don't have any Jews") without dropping a syllable. As Sir Robin in Spamalot, the 29-year-old American Idol runner-up appears perfectly at ease in the world of Monty Python—which, he recently claimed, he thought was a person until he saw the show. The "fish out of water" angle of Clay Aiken starring in Spamalot has already led to a couple of snarky magazine articles, including one in New York in which the writer recorded Aiken's quotes in an exaggerated imitation of his North Carolina accent. No wonder his personal publicist now keeps a sharp ear (and a stopwatch) on Aiken's interviews. The truth is, Clay is smart guy who knows what works for him, and he was shrewd enough to realize that Spamalot, in its own nutty way, would be a good match for his talents and his sunny sensibility. "If somebody said to me, 'Who in this cast has never done theater?' he is the last person I would have chosen," says Hannah Waddingham, the Olivier Award-nominated British musical star who joined the Tony-winning musical as the Lady of the Lake the same night Aiken debuted. Three weeks into his run, Broadway's new Sir Robin shared his impressions of life in Spamalot.

Love the line about the bitter 13-year olds sitting at their computers. I've got to agree that there seem to be a lot of bitter people populating the Internet and not all of them are thirteen-year olds which is the sad thing.

That meeting (with Mike Nichols) obviously went well.
There was a big concern for me—and I'll speak to you about this because your outlet speaks directly to [theater] people—about what they call "stunt casting." Based on some research I did, I know that a lot of diehard Broadway fans can't stand it, so there was automatic concern that people within the industry were going to be upset that I was doing this because I took [the role] away from somebody else or I didn't earn my way; I didn't audition the way everybody else does. I was concerned about that, not just in terms of Broadway fans but people in the cast who might have wanted to see somebody else get it. And I could not have been more wrong when it comes to the people who work in the industry. There's always going to be some 13-year-old sitting at his computer in Topeka who's bitter. But every person I've worked with has been unbelievably phenomenal and welcoming.

Somehow I have the feeling that this is the hardest physical work Clay has ever done.

Mike Nichols isn't known for stunt casting. And in any case, you are a natural at this. What's been the biggest challenge for you?
It's so physically demanding, which is interesting because [original Sir Robin] David Hyde Pierce is an amazing actor, but he's not a dancer and neither am I. The fact that they would ask us to do this part cracks me up. David Hibbard, who plays Patsy in the show and whose dressing room is next to mine, has become one of my favorite people because he's been so warm and inviting. He was telling me that when he first got to the show, for whatever reason they had him play Robin for two weeks, and he said he was never able to breathe because it's such a hard part. And he was in Cats for years. I said, "How interesting, because I can't breathe either!" Every single night, it just kicks my rear end! It's exhausting. So I'm not to the point where I think I've got everything right. They say that eventually your body gets used to it and it doesn't wear you out as much. I'm hoping that when that day happens, I'll be able to reflect a little bit more as I'm doing it. When I do a concert, I know the songs frontways and backways; I can sing a song and be thinking about something completely different while I'm doing it

It's heart-warming that the cast really seems to be a family.

What are you enjoying most about being on Broadway?
I love the people I work with. I really enjoy getting there [to the theater] and talking to them and listening to what goes on backstage. It's kind of nice to have a big group of people to work with as opposed to being by yourself [doing concerts]. I've only been doing this for three weeks, so it's still new.

What's been the biggest surprise?
I think I've been surprised at how much of a family the backstage is. David [Hibbard] put together this little quiz about knowing your fellow cast and crew members and whatnot. He got tiny secrets about each person, things that no one would expect about you, and he put about 100 of them into this quiz. You would not believe how much that has occupied everybody in the building. Everybody is running around trying to figure out everybody else's thing. It's really like a family.
Whenever Clay tells Simon Cowell to kiss his butt is all right be me. It's been a long time coming.

Are you surprised that so many American Idol alums have turned up on Broadway? Not really. My situation is slightly different because I went into a show that was kind of unexpected; it's not a singing show. The other people who have done stage work from Idol have done shows where singing is important, and Idol finds people who are vocally talented. Fantasia was unbelievable in The Color Purple, but we always knew she could sing; we knew she had the ability to perform on stage. And we knew, because she was on Idol, that she had the ability to work hard. The same, I think, is true for everybody who has done [Broadway]. Diana DeGarmo was there with Fantasia, Frenchie Davis, Ruben [Studdard] is about to head out [on tour in Ain't Misbehavin'], so it doesn't surprise me that much. If you can handle three weeks of Idol, you've got the stamina [to do Broadway] because it's very stressful. I will say this, though: If I ever hear Simon Cowell insult someone on the show by using "You belong on Broadway" as a put-down, he can kiss my butt for that!

There you go!
People on Broadway are, without question, the most talented people in the country because they're doing seven things at once! They're dancing and they're singing and they're acting and they're speaking in tongues and they're playing piano and tapping. I mean, if Simon uses that as an insult again, he can kiss it! If you think about the people who are most well known for being phenomenal at their craft—Glenn Close as a prime example—the reason they're so good is because they started on stage. If you can do this Broadway thing, you can do anything. I'm considering running for President! [Laughs.]

For the rest of the qestions and answers, click the link at the beginning of this blog.


Here is some footage from Spamalot and a little interview Clay did for FOX News, excerpts of which aired on various local FOX news broadcasts across the country.

~~Signing autographs by the stage door 2/9/08~~
Photo by Butterflyshine

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