Both my husband and I were struggling actors for a good many years. We met in the theater – my husband came in to audition as a replacement for an actor that had suddenly dropped out of The Country Wife a week before we opened. Husband fit the costume . . . and a career was born!
I’ve been thinking about how some people are just so quick thinking – some of Clay Aiken’s ad libs on stage are wonderfully funny. Some people have it – some don’t. Usually, my husband is one of those quick-witted types. One time we were doing Shaw's Arms & The Man he did kind of have a moment . . .
The play takes place during the 1885 Serbo-Bulgarian War. Raina is a young Bulgarian woman and one night, a Swiss voluntary soldier in the Serbian army bursts into her bedroom and begs her to hide him, so that he is not killed. Captain Bluntschli is supposed to say "I am a Swiss, fighting merely as a professional soldier. I joined the Serbs because they came first on the road from Switzerland."
Well, husband starts talking very confidently "I'm a Serb . . ." and my eyes bug out of my head since he's pretty much changing the whole play with that one mistake.
I interrupt and say "You're a what?" Well, he knows by the sweat pouring off my forehead and the twitching of my lip that he said the wrong thing. So, deep breath and he starts again "I'm a . . . I'm a . . ." small voice "serb" . . .with a question-mark at the end.
By now, I'm freaking cause if he's a Serb we have some serious problems with the rest of the play. "You are not" I ad lib "you can't be". Husband takes a deep breath and says - "I'm a . . . Bulgarian?" - Well that's worse because if he's a Bulgarian then he doesn't have to worry about hiding in my Bulgarian bedroom. "I don't believe you." I say.
By now, I'm convinced that the audience is thinking "I thought Shaw was a great playwright -- what the hell is this crappy dialogue?
Well, Husband is not happy with my ad libbing - so he breathes deeply once again and decides maybe if he says it louder he can get away with it. "I'm a Ser. . ." "You're a what?" I interrupt louder still, eyes bugging out of my head. "I'm a . . . I'm a . . . *deep breath* . . . *sigh* . . . I'm sooo confused."
Stifling laughter at this point, I figure what the hell - and I say stupidly - You sound like a Swiss (whatever the hell that means). Relief comes over Husband’s face as he continues "Yes, yes. . . I'm so tired I can't think straight . . . I'm a Swiss fighting for the Serbs . . ." and we're back in business.
Poor George Bernard Shaw rolled over in his grave. But "I'm soooo confused" can still send us into fits of giggling whenever we say it.
Being quick on your feet is definitely a plus in the theater. And on the concert stage. One of the things I adore about Clay Aiken is how entertaining he is, even when he's not singing. Here's Clay - thinking quickly on his (big) feet.
Thinking about acting and Clay Aiken – I’ve definitely noticed a change in his delivery of a song. For shear perfection – I’m reminded of the brilliant Barbara Cook, who, in addition to being a sublime performer, teaches a master class for professional singers. As described in this review of a DVD by George Dansker who took her class in 2005 – “After only a few moments she was able to help each singer find the essence of a song and to communicate its meaning to the audience.” Barbara Cook
I remember the first time I noticed something had changed in Clay Aiken’s delivery of a song from when I simply just fell in love with the voice. I remember commenting on it to a friend of mine. It was as if he was using an acting technique called The Inner Monologue. When done correctly, the inner monologue is what brings you to your lines. The idea is that you are thinking and it is your thinking that forces the words out. – it’s what changes your intonations, lends credibility to what you are saying (singing) and prevents lines (lyrics) from being uttered in a void. By the time I saw Clay’s performance of I Survived You in Charlotte during the Not a Tour – I was convinced he was using the technique, even if he may not have given it that name. The Video jumps a bit at the beginning but settles down so you can really see the intensity. To me, it's all there in his eyes and it translates right into his body and his voice.
During the JukeBox Tour in the summer of 2005 – his rendition of I Can’t Make You Love Me brought me to tears. I already knew he had an exquisite voice but it was the nuance and subtlety and conviction in the song that were outstanding.
Here's this blog's Quote: "I can always be distracted by love, but eventually I get horny for my creativity." Gilda Radner
If you haven't already read Pink Armchair's wonderfully entertaining blog about a very special musical audition - be sure to check it out: Lost By A Nose
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