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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