Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Spamalot: Killer Rabbits, The Black Knight, Clay Aiken - Oh My!

As some of you who read this blog may know, I love the theater. I was an actress, I graduated Performing Arts High School and majored in theater at Boston University. Some of my theater stories can be found in the archives of ConCLAYve. I was never a fan of what is sometimes called "stunt casting". I have to admit, when American Idol contestants went to Broadway or got a big role in a movie musical, well I rolled my eyes a bit. What a snob I could be!!!!

But look how wonderfully well Fantasia is doing in Color Purple. Brava! I adored Jennifer Hudson in the film Dreamgirls - handling a part that is incredibly difficult and then making such a "big" role work on the screen - that is not easy as the camera shows the truth of what you are thinking and doing and being able to translate such a powerhouse role and make it work in close up is difficult. Beautifully done, Jennifer.

So now Clay Aiken is coming to Broadway in Spamalot and suddenly - who cares about "stunt" casting? I'm so thrilled I'm jumping out of my skin. What a brilliant move for Clay to choose Spamalot as the place to make his Broadway debut. And how wonderful that Mike Nichols and Eric Idle chose him. I saw this show with the original cast and my husband saw it once more. Now we're all set with tickets on my birthday to see it again. This is not your typical BIG VOICED musical. If Clay had done Les Miz or even RENT it wouldn't be such a surprise.

But Spamalot? Spamalot? What a wonderfully brave thing for Clay to do. A musical comedy that requires so much more than singing - and I've seen Clay's terrific comedy timing. I've seen his quick wit and his charm. I've seen him have fun with impressions of people and accents. I've seen enough of his concerts to know he's got a bawdy irreverant sense of humor. But most people remember Clay Aiken as the skinny geeky guy from AI. The earnest guy with the big voice. That's what makes this choice so intriguing, smart and brave - he is building an interesting career, full of surprises for his fans, challenges for himself and an opportunity to break down an identity some people have of him from AI that is completely one-sided. People who have the opportunity to challenge themselves, to work with great talents, to learn and grow - produce the best and I expect that the next CD that Clay does is going to be infused with all these new experiences. In the meantime, while he's working on that - he's also finding ways to bring excitement to his career, to stay in the public eye, and to have fun and give fun in return.

Here's a bit of Clay Aiken, the entertainer, this summer at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC (with thanks to scruffy13)

What can I say to those Broadway snobs that I wouldn't say to myself? Give him a chance . . . you may be pleasantly surprised. If nothing else, his desire to stretch and grow - to challenge himself by tackling something so unexpected - should be admired. Broadway is full of wonderfully talented people. He recognizes that this is a big step for him to take and he is looking forward to working with the Broadway performers. As Clay says himself:

Taking part in a show alongside some of these multi-talented performers will definitely force me to stretch! A show like Spamalot seems to be such a departure from what I have been doing for the past four years. This show is not just a change of scenery from many typical Broadway shows, I think it is also a great opportunity for a temporary shift for me. So, I’m really pumped about being able to branch out. A little variation is always nice. And, it's a chance to learn and grow. Lets cross our fingers on that!

Thanks to Invisible926 for the great photoshop of Clay as Sir Robin!

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Karma said...

Give him a chance, indeed. Great blog Nan.

limey said...

I loved this blog and the video, thanks Nan and I am now sad that Clay said there probably wouldn't be a summer tour next year!

The ConCLAYve-Nan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The ConCLAYve-Nan said...

Deleted my earlier one because I can't spell! Here's what I said:

Don't be sad - he said there may not be. But he didn't say there wouldn't be one in the Fall or Winter. He's building a career - he's toured so much. When he does tour in support of his new CD - it will be a fabulous tour with a bunch of new fans that he's gained by doing these things - like Spamalot, the Sedaka tribute, the Christmas/Skating show. What's the rush? Why not wait just a little longer for something wonderful!

Corabeth said...

I think this is possibly the smartest move of Clay's career.

Great blog, Nan.