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Palm Beach Post

Six Questions for Clay Aiken



Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Monday, January 07, 2008

Clay Aiken is not the first celebrity to hold a golf tournament as a charity fund-raiser. But he may be the first one who doesn't actually golf. At all.

"I am barely a putt-putt golfer," said the American Idol finalist and advocate, who nonetheless is coming to Mirasol Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens today for the first-ever "Golf For Inclusion" tournament to benefit his Bubel/Aiken Foundation, which seeks inclusion for young people with special needs.

"I don't think that I could successfully do it. We'll do some sort of clinic that shows you what to do. I could show you what not to do. (If I played) we could be there all day long waiting for me."

Whether or not Aiken will be teeing off, he's undoubtedly the draw for the event, which includes a clinic by PGA pro Wayne Player and a silent auction. Even though he didn't actually win American Idol's second season crown, the North Carolina native has become a bestselling artist and the object of affection of the Claymates, who form one of the most dedicated fan cultures since Beatles fanatics donned the mop-top wigs.

A few weeks ago, the very busy singer checked in for a brief few minutes to talk about his dedication to the cause of inclusion, his Broadway debut, and the Claymates' possible future in international politics.

Question: So you don't golf. Why a golf tournament?

Answer: The goal is that we've had so much success with other fund-raisers and grass-roots support, we wanted to branch out to make sure that other people who might be familiar with me and the career I have are aware.

My dream is that (the foundation) can exist, should exist, without me needing to carry it. We want (the fund-raiser) to be lucrative and at the same time, to appeal to people who definitely would not be the demographic that would show up for my Christmas tour.

Golf would definitely appeal to a group that would often (be dedicated) to philanthropy but probably not vote for American Idol.

Q. The golf tournament will specifically benefit something called "Let's All Play Together." Tell me about that.

A. It's the kind of program that was a dream of mine when we started the foundation, not just because of my background with special education or my relationship with the Bubels (a family whose autistic son Clay met while studying special education).

I worked at some YMCAs, and I saw so many opportunities for kids with special needs to be included in summer camps, and yet they weren't. In so many instances, they were turned away because the YMCAs didn't have the facilities or trained staff to deal with them ... The (one) I worked at was not equipped and wasn't very enthusiastic about trying. "Let's All Play" is essentially a summer camp that is inclusive.

If there had been this curriculum at the Y's when I was there, those kids would not have been turned away. That's why this is so exciting to me.

Q. I had the opportunity to meet a lot of the fans this summer, and they're the most loyal fans of anyone I've ever met. They're a little nutty, in a good way.

A. (Chuckles) I try my best to not use words like that. They're enthusiastic without question.

Q. I said, nutty in a good way! What is it about you that inspires all that devotion?

A. I do not see what they see. I don't understand it, to be honest. I guess my mirror must be broken. I often say that the coolest thing about (the fans) is not just that they come to shows, but that they do support things that are important to me, like UNICEF and causes that I support.

And it's not just financial. You would be amazed how many fans have gone to their local Boys and Girls clubs and lobbied to start an "Let's All Play Together." It's really amazing. We've had organizations call us and say "A lot of women have called us and said we need to look into this."

I've had fans personally organize tee-ball teams to use the curriculum ... Nationwide, groups get together and wrap gifts for free in malls, for awareness of the foundation. We have raised quite a bit of money. They don't just man the booths - they started it.

Q. That's impressive.

A. I have said many times that if some of these presidential candidates had these ladies working for them, they'd win. If there had been Claymates looking to find Osama bin Laden, we'd have world peace right now.

Q. I understand you're going to be on Broadway in Spamalot. How in the world did that happen, and who do you play?

A. I play more than one character - I play three or four people, but my major role is Sir Robin. This isn't anything I necessarily thought I would ever do.

They contacted me over a year ago to see if I had any interest in doing it, and I went to see the show and thought "This is the stupidest show I've ever seen in my life!" But it's just the silliest, and I said "Let's see - I am silly." It's not your typical Broadway show.

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Carolina Newswire

Clay Aiken Premieres His New Smile on Broadway

Clay Aiken Premiers His New Smile On Broadway


CARY, NC ― When Clay Aiken makes his Broadway debut in Monty Python's Spamalot he will be wearing a new smile created by Dr. Bobbi Stanley, a nationally acclaimed cosmetic dentist practicing in Cary, a suburb of Clay's hometown of Raleigh, NC. Clay will join the cast of the award winning play in the role of Sir Robin on January 18 and continue through May 4.

“Clay contacted me right after he landed a booking on the Jimmy Kimmel show,” said Dr. Stanley. “It was only five days before his appearance and he really wanted a new smile before the show.” Typically, the procedure would have taken up to three weeks to complete. But, having an office equipped with cutting-edge technology and a patient list that includes other celebrities, athletes and busy business professionals, Dr. Stanley is used to working under such tight deadlines.

“We only had three days from start to finish, but we are set-up to accommodate busy patients in Clay's situation, whether they are local or from out-of-town” said Dr. Stanley. “So, our lab in California was not surprised to hear my request and agreed to go on 24-hour call to help me help Clay.”

High-tech advantages included: ceramic reconstruction (CEREC), an in-office 3-dimensional, computer aided design and computer aided manufacturing (3D/CAD/CAM) system for creating all-ceramic restorations in the course of a single treatment session; digital x-rays; computer guided, painless injections; dental laser technology; and the services of the top-rated dental lab in the U.S.

“It was a great experience. Dr. Stanley fit me in at the very last-minute and provided me with a wonderful new smile,” said Clay. “It was really more of a spa experience than a dental appointment. Although I live in Raleigh, I know that Dr. Stanley has a program for out-of-town patients who want to come in for a long weekend and go home with a beautiful new smile.”

A variety of services are available for out-of-town guests, including: travel services, accommodations at a new four-star hotel, and a concierge service to help with arranging leisure activities, such as golf, shopping, fine dining, beach and mountain day-trips.

About Dr. Bobbi Stanley and Stanley Dentistry

Stanley Dentistry is a relaxing and innovative dental practice in Cary, N.C. that concentrates on cosmetic, restorative and general dentistry. Dr. Bobbi Stanley and her team are committed to continued education, to offer the best dental services, using the highest dental technology and the most gentle care. To learn more, call 919.460.9665 or visit www.smilecary.com.

About Clay Aiken

Aiken, a native of Raleigh, N.C., came in second place to Ruben Studdard in 2003 during the second season of the long-running, hit reality-show, "American Idol.” Since that time he has sold more than 6 million albums, co-authored the best selling book, "Learning to Sing: Hearing the Music in Your Life," and sold-out six concert tours. He was a focus of the Off-Broadway musical, Idol: The Musical, and has appeared on "Ed," "Saturday Night Live," Scrubs” and the “Jimmy Kimmel! Live. “

About Monty Python's Spamalot

Lovingly ripped-off from the classic film-comedy, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” Spamalot is a musical play directed by Mike Nichols with a new score composed by Jon Du Prez and former Month Python's Flying Circus cast member, Eric Idle.

The played earned the 2005 Tony Award for Best Musical, Best Director and an acting award for Sara Ramirez. The musical still plays on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre and currently enjoys runs in London, Las Vegas and a national tour. Additionally, the production opened in Melbourne, Australia in November, 2007.

The musical tells the tale of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table on their quest from God for the Holy Grail - with a short stop in the dazzling Spam-filled land of Camelot.

For information on Spamalot, visit montypythonsspamalot.com.

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Achin’ Aiken

Clay Aiken is sore from rehearsing for 'Spamalot,' and now he's sore at us.

By Ramin Setoodeh

Newsweek Web Exclusive

Updated: 6:41 PM ET Jan 11, 2008

Clay Aiken makes his Broadway debut next week in "Spamalot." Although he didn't win "American Idol"--he finished second place on the second season of the show--he's among the show's most successful contestants (his debut CD, "Measure of a Man," sold more than 600,000 copies in a single week). And his groupies are so loyal, they've banded together online and call themselves the Claymates. In person, Aiken is chatty and witty, until you start asking him questions about his personal life, including his fight last year with Kelly Ripa while he was a guest host on "Regis and Kelly." As a joke, Aiken covered Ripa's mouth with his hand to quiet her, prompting Ripa to make a joke ("I don't know where that hand's been, honey!") that Rosie O'Donnell called homophobic--a strange thing to say, since Aiken says he's straight. Aiken spoke to NEWSWEEK's Ramin Setoodeh. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: How's the "Spamalot" rehearsing going?

Clay Aiken: I'm sore. I couldn't even get off the toilet the other day. It hurts so bad. I don't know if it's I'm not coordinated or using muscles I never had to use before.

Like what?

My legs. Having to remember three, four, five [taps feet]. I can't move and think at the same time.

Did you know your socks don't match?

I have a bunch of striped socks. It's too difficult to match them, so now I just pick up two in the morning. Even if I wear a tux to an awards show, the socks never match.

Stay away from Joan Rivers.

Well, she probably doesn't like me. I don't have style.

Who helps you?

It's a team of highly trained professionals [who] make me look halfway decent every day. It's pretty sad I can't dress myself still at 30 years old.

Is that really how old you are?

No, I'm 29. But I feel old enough to call myself 30.

Did you ever do musical theater?

I was cut from my high-school musical, "Guys and Dolls."

What role?

Anything. Dancing bush would've been fine. But I didn't even get it.

Why did you decide to do Broadway?

I'd been asked a number of times to do this show or that show. A lot of people saw it as a good match--I'm starting to realize maybe it wasn't--and I always had something else to do. I think the thing that attracted me to this show is how different it was and anti-Broadway it is. I barely sing. They've written some new parts for me to sing a little. But it gives me the opportunity to try different things.

Have you seen "Spamalot"?

The first time I saw it I thought it was the stupidest thing I'd ever seen in my entire life. My tour drummer is the "Spamalot" drummer, and [he] said you've got to see it again.

Are you a Python fan?

I thought Monty Python was a person until three months ago.

Do you think the Claymates will come see you?

They'll be there in full force. I hope they behave.

Are they rowdy?

Sometimes. They scare me every once in a while.

Do women throw their underwear on stage?

In Minneapolis, we had a lady throw her panties in the middle of "Silent Night." I'm like, Are you kidding me? We've had ladies throw Depends that say, "Your older fans love you, too."

How did you get into a fight with that lady on a plane?

I'm not going to talk about it.

I was just curious because you've never talked about it.

I did talk about it.

What about the Kelly Ripa thing?

I'm not going to discuss it.

Did you think it was homophobic?

I'm not going to discuss it.

What do you want to talk about?

I think we're done.

Can we talk about something fun?

No, we're done. I thought NEWSWEEK would be more reputable. I'm surprised.

But I think people are curious about it.

It was a year ago. This is NEWSWEEK. It's not the National Enquirer. I'd hate to have a job where I had to be rude to people.

We're just having a conversation.

Change the subject! I'd never take a job where I had to do something that I didn't want to do.

What about all those Ford commercials on "American Idol"?

That wasn't a job.

It was part of your job.

It wasn't a Ford commercial. It was a music video. It was a completely different thing.

I'll change the subject. What do you do for fun?

I watch the news. I read news magazines, but I'm reconsidering that now.

Are you going to watch "Idol"?

I haven't watched since season four. I compare it to high-school football--if it weren't for high school, we wouldn't be successful, but I don't need to keep going to the football games.

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Yahoo! News/AP

Clay Aiken Didn't Get "Python" at First

Sun Jan 13, 5:00 PM ET

NEW YORK - Clay Aiken, who joins the cast of "Monty Python's Spamalot" this week, says its humor was initially lost on him.

"The first time I saw it I thought it was the stupidest thing I'd ever seen in my entire life," the "American Idol" runner-up told Newsweek. "My tour drummer is the 'Spamalot' drummer, and (he) said you've got to see it again."

Aiken plays one of the leads, Sir Robin, in the Tony Award-winning musical in a stint from Friday through May 4. He told the magazine he was so sore from rehearsals he "couldn't even get off the toilet the other day."

"It hurts so bad. I don't know if it's I'm not coordinated or using muscles I never had to use before," he said.

The show is based on the film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," which came out in 1975, a little before the 29-year-old singer's time.

"I thought Monty Python was a person until three months ago," Aiken told Newsweek for editions on newsstands on Monday.

This article has been picked up by many different outlets (with varying titles) via the Associated Press.

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New York Daily News

Clay Aiken is Birdway Bound

Clay Aiken is Birdway bound

Wednesday, January 16th 2008, 3:43 PM

Pop singer, how-to author and controversial Kelly Ripa mouth muffler, Clay Aiken now goes by another title - Broadway hatchling. He debuts Friday night as Sir Robin in "Monty Python's Spamalot."

Then again, this picture of Aiken in costume as the Round Table Knight in the merry musical spoof of the Aurthurian legend is bound to bring a more dubious nickname ... Chicken choker. David Hyde Pierce, who originated the role, was snapped simply holding a feathered bird.

In Friday's Daily News, North Carolina-born crooner and "American Idol" alum tells why "Spamalot" was the musical he wanted to do, even if Sir Robin doesn’t do all that much singing.

Joe Dziemianowicz

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Our Exclusive Interview with Clay Aiken!

Our Exclusive Interview With Clay Aiken

January 15, 2008 - Posted by Marnie

Even with a grueling rehearsal schedule for his upcoming role in the Broadway show SPAMALOT, Clay Aiken conveyed nothing but high energy and endless enthusiasm during his interview with americanidol.com. This certainly isn't due to him getting a lot of rest these days, however. As Clay so bluntly put it, the rigors of Broadway are "kickin' my butt!" With the debut of SPAMALOT on Friday, his schedule will only get busier. The show will run once a day from Tuesday to Friday and then twice on Saturdays and Sundays! As Clay relayed, having to put together all the acts of singing, dancing, playing piano, and speaking in an accent is more than he ever expected!

This is not to say that Clay isn't enjoying the whole process. On the contrary, he is completely fulfilled by the experience and constantly amazed by those around him who do this on a regular basis. According to the popular singer, once you do Broadway, you can do pretty much anything. Clay is also astounded by the level of talent that has surrounded him during rehearsals. By the end of the day, they have filled his head with so much information that he has trouble remembering his own name! Clay admits that he was warned about the challenges he would face by another "Idol" alumnus, Fantasia Barrino. Thankfully, he is nothing but pleased with the result. He says that the show is "atypical of a musical," calling it a performance that's filled with "silly nonsense," which is what makes it so hilarious. Clay feels that he has really spread his wings by taking part in this, as the show doesn't even involve that much true singing. In fact, he admits that the one "big song" he performs is actually "talked sung."

Despite his participation in this farcical play and some guest stints on shows such as "Scrubs" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," Clay is reluctant to tout his comic abilities. As he joked to us, the only thing comical about him is that he is "funny looking." All kidding aside, Clay was quick to say that he doesn't think of himself as the complete marketing package, like Carrie Underwood or Chris Daughtry might be. Explaining further, he said that he knows he's "not this hip, cool radio guy," but he embraces the strengths he does have and enjoys pursuing things that will play up these qualities. In fact, one thing he thinks he would really excel at is hosting his own daytime talk show. While he doesn't want to pursue this to the point of missing out on other great opportunities, he did admit that this certainly something at the forefront of his mind. However, he realizes that this could be a long process and, as he said, sometimes it's best to "let go and let God."

Clay also discussed two things that are very close to his heart—his charities and his fans. What's interesting is the fact that the two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, his fans have helped to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for organizations in which Clay is involved. The Bubel/Aiken foundation, formed by Clay, helps to include kids with disabilities in things like summer camp and sporting events. He also works closely with UNICEF to raise awareness about poverty stricken areas around the world. As Clay mentioned, his fans were the ones that helped raise over $100,000 in the ten days he spent in Mexico recently, helping those who were devastated by floods. They also helped to raise approximately $250,000 during his time in Afghanistan last year.

"Claymates," as his fans are often called, can expect something huge in return for their loyalty—a new album by Clay! While his last album was something that was desired by others, Clay says that this album contains music that is definitely desired by him. It is also the first time he is having one producer help him to put out the entire album. The result, he says, will be an album of original material that is consistent in its sound and its message to his fans—look for it to hopefully be released this May.

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ET Online

Clay Aiken Weighs In on the Press and American Idol

The former "American Idol" competitor heads to Broadway, but first he chats with ET on the media, Britney and "Idol."

CLAY AIKEN makes his debut amid the bright lights of Broadway on Friday, January 18 in the musical version of "Monty Python's Spamalot," but first, the former "American Idol" contestant chats with ET about his news-making interview with Newsweek magazine, his take on BRITNEY SPEARS, and the new season of "American Idol."

When Clay sat down with an interviewer from Newsweek, he was asked questions about the appearance he made on "Live with Regis and Kelly" on which he covered KELLY RIPA's mouth with his hand, as well as an altercation he had with a woman on a plane. He refused to answer both questions, telling the reporter: "We're done. I thought Newsweek would be more reputable. I'm surprised." His refusal to respond to those questions was reported, and this is what he told ET in defense of his position:

"There are so many other things in this world that are more important. Newsweek usually does hard news. I think it's the press that cares about dirt, so that's what they print."

As for the media's fascination with the pop princess, Clay comments: "We have a presidential election going on, and for whatever reason this is what people are interested in. I think that is probably the saddest thing. Leave her alone, just leave her alone."

The second season "Idol" runner-up also admits that he has not kept up with the talent competition the past few go-rounds, but not because he is trying to distance himself from the show that launched his career.

"I haven't watched 'American Idol' in three years now," he admits. "It stresses me out so much. I compare it to high school. I needed college to understand and know what I know now. Most people wouldn't be where they are if it weren't for their education. I see 'Idol' in the same way and I wouldn't be where I am without it, but I don't still go to my high school football games."

Posted January 16, 2008 12:04:00 PM

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Photo Preview: Clay Aiken in "Spamalot"

Wednesday, January 16, 2008; Posted: 5:09 PM - by BWW

Recording-artist and "American Idol" runner-up, Clay Aiken will make his Broadway debut as Sir Robin in Monty Python's Spamalot on Friday, January 18 through May 4, 2008 at the Shubert Theatre (225 West 44th Street).

Tickets are available online now at www.telecharge.com or by calling 212-239-6200 or 800-432-7250.

Directed by Mike Nichols, who won his eighth Tony Award for his direction of the new musical, Monty Python's Spamalot has a book by Eric Idle, "lovingly ripped-off" from the screenplay of the Pythons' best- loved film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin.

The music is by Eric Idle and John DuPrez. Other members of the Spamalot creative team include Casey Nicholaw (choreography), multiple Olivier Award-winners Tim Hatley (sets and costumes) and Hugh Vanstone (lighting) and Acme Sound Partners.

Clay Aiken has sold more than 6 million albums; co-authored a best-selling book; and, played six sold-out concert tours. He won second-place in the second season of the hit FOX series "American Idol."

Winning more awards than any other show in the 2005 Broadway Season, including the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Grammy Award for Best Cast Recording, Spamalot has set box office records since opening on Broadway to critical acclaim in March, 2005 at the flagship Shubert Theatre.

Photo by Joan Marcus


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Time Out New York

Clay Aiken: The Pop Idol Makes a Surprising Broadway Debut

Clay Aiken

The pop idol makes a surprising Broadway debut.

By Smith Galtney

Wholesome, God-fearing, ambiguously effete Clay Aiken unintentionally pushes more buttons than most so-called subversive artists. Just defending the 29-year-old North Carolinian, American Idol and pop phenom is likely to cause an uproar. Ask Rosie O’Donnell: Last year, she accused Kelly Ripa of being homophobic after Ripa derided Aiken for placing his hand on her mouth. (“I don’t know where that hand’s been, honey,” Ripa fired at him.)

On the phone, though, the lightning rod sounds utterly harmless, talking a mile a minute in a Southern accent and often bursting into high-pitched laughter. Before making his Broadway debut in Spamalot this month, Aiken called TONY from a tour stop in Jersey City to gab about “Claymates” and stage crapping.

So Spamalot isn’t how one expects Clay Aiken to invade Broadway.

And tell me why not! [Laughs]

Well, you seem like a traditional guy. It’s a pretty unconventional show.

That’s exactly why we chose it. If you’re going to branch out into a new field, well, go whole hog—try something different.

Never. And the first time I saw the show, I thought, This is stupid—there’s no plot. What’s the point?!? I had this image of Broadway having uplifting stories and melodies. But Spamalot’s just silliness and irreverence raised to a completely different level. I get to soil myself onstage!

What will your fans think of that?

If I’ve learned one thing in the past five years, it’s that you’ll never please everybody. But the people who’ve been so supportive of us, they trust us enough to have some fun here and there, and be a little irreverent. I won’t be soiling myself for the rest of my life.

Did you come up with the term Claymates?

No, it started when I was on American Idol. I didn’t really like it at first. I was like, Oh my God, how tacky! But now I think, If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. We’ve fully embraced it.

And there are Claysians, too.

There’s also the Claynadians. In Raleigh, my hometown, there’s Clayniacs. There’s even a group called the Lecherous Broads for Clay Aiken! We appreciate them, but sometimes they’re like that cousin you love but can’t quite understand.

Ever worry you’ll get a limb torn off?

Maybe just squeezed to death. [Laughs] But the Claymates are just a section of the fan base. The overwhelming majority are very respectful, very protective and mothering. If I sneeze onstage one night, 15 people show up at the next tour stop with Triaminic. I’ve got far more mothers than I ever needed!

Is it true you’re allergic to nuts?

I’m allergic to a number of things: tree nuts, coffee, mints, chocolate. Some fans tried to introduce me to carob a few years ago. But it gave me the runs, so… [Laughs]

Speaking of which, is it safe to say Rosie O’Donnell had diarrhea of the mouth when she called Kelly Ripa “homophobic”?

Oh, God. I think people on TV say certain things just so they can get attention. I didn’t agree with Rosie. But I appreciated her trying to come to my defense, in one way or another!

What do you make of people nagging you about the “gay” thing?

I think the majority of the American public cares less about it than reporters like you do.

Has anyone ever confronted you about it in public?

I can’t come up with any specific incidents. But I’ve been called everything in the book at some point or another—gay, ugly, nerdy, fat.

You’re not fat.

After Idol, I was. Going from living in North Carolina, where barely anyone would talk to me, to a world where everyone knew who I was—it freaked me out. So I went on antianxiety medicine and gained, like, 20 pounds in a year’s time.

You must be used to the attention now.

It’s still odd, though. Now I just think it’s funny. Like last night: I was onstage and all these people were screaming, and in the back of my head I’m thinking, Are you people crazy?!?

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Clay Aiken Aches from Prepping for New Role

Clay Aiken Aches from Prepping for New Role

The Idol star of Broadway's Spamalot says rehearsals nearly waylaid him


Clay Aiken as Spamalot's Sir Robin Photo by: Joan MarcusClay Aiken Aches from Prepping for New Role | Clay Aiken

It may be a long leap from Raleigh, N.C., to the kingdom of Camelot – with a memorable stop on American Idol in between – but Clay Aiken is apparently ready to take his seat as Sir Robin at the Round Table. The singer, 29, officially joins the cast of the Tony-winning Monty Python musical Spamalot on Friday, having told Newsweek that he was so sore from the arduous rehearsals to prepare for his Broadway debut that he "couldn't even get off the toilet the other day."

It will remain to be seen if Aiken's acting and dancing can measure up to his singing, CD-selling (6 million) or even his candor – as well as who's really tougher, Simon Cowell or New York theater critics. Aiken is due to remain with the show through May 4.

– Stephen M. Silverman

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Clay Aiken Bio


Sir Robin, Guard 1, Brother Maynard

may be most widely recognized as a finalist on the second season of American Idol, but additionally, he became the first artist in Billboard chart history to debut at #1 with his debut single. The award-winning singer’s three albums have sold a combined total of over 6 million copies. His holiday release, Merry Christmas With Love stands as the fastest selling holiday album in SoundScan history. His memoir, Learning To Sing: Hearing the Music in Your Life became a New York Times Best Seller. A former special education teacher, in 2003 he created the Bubel/Aiken Foundation to serve individuals with disabilities, and in 2004 was appointed a Goodwil Ambassador for UNICEF. Aiken is proud to make his Broadway debut in Monty Python's Spamalot. Find out more at www.clayonline.com.


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New York Daily News

Clay Aiken's Big Knight on Broadway

Clay Aiken's big knight on Broadway

Friday, January 18th 2008, 4:00 AM

Clay Aiken debuts as the cowardly Sir Robin in the hit musical 'Spamalot.'

Joe Dziemianowicz

Pop singer, how-to author and now, Broadway hatchling, Clay Aiken debuts Friday as Sir Robin in "Monty Python's Spamalot," the squirrely musical spoof of the Arthurian legend.

Aiken is the latest in an ever-expanding roster of "American Idol" contestants who've leapt to Broadway. The list includes Fantasia ("The Color Purple"), Diana DeGarmo ("Hairspray"), Frenchie Davis and Tamyra Gray ("Rent") and Josh Strickland ("Tarzan").

In the past couple of years, Aiken has fielded offers from other Broadway shows but passed because he was either busy or not very interested. He chose "Spamalot," he says, "because it's completely different. A lot of the stuff seemed, for lack of a better word, boring."

"Spamalot" is anything but. "It's the silliest thing on Broadway," he says, adding that it felt like a good fit even if Robin doesn't warble all that much. "I have a part with minimal singing," he says. "My big number is a Noel Coward-style patter song."

He goes on to say that most people would have expected him to do something more traditional and with more shots for solos. His powerful pipes are, after all, his claim to fame. The show's humor pulled him in. "It appealed to me," he says, "in the same way that it appeals to audiences."

Aiken credits fellow "Idol" alum Fantasia with playing a part in bringing him to Broadway. "Seeing her in 'The Color Purple' helped me decide to do this," says Aiken. "I was blown away. She said she was enjoying the experience."

Aiken has been relishing working with legendary director Mike Nichols. "He knows so much you have to be a sponge around him," he says. "He's the funniest person I ever met, so dry and wise."

He's even appreciated the rather bizarre visualizations and motivations Nichols uses. "He was trying to teach me to react to something," says Aiken. "He said, 'Imagine if you came in and we said, 'Every fifteenth performance, we cut off a toe.'"

Audiences will find out tomorrow if the tip actually helped, and they'll see the new bits of music and jokes "Spamalot" writer Eric Idle has added for Aiken. "It's just a touch here and there," says Aiken. Songs have been modified to better fit his voice.

Aiken can take comfort that he's not the only new kid on the stage. Hannah Waddingham, who played the Lady of the Lake in the London production, starts Saturday in that role at the Shubert Theatre. "I've kind of gotten past the whole audience-makes-me-nervous thing," Aiken says, "but this is the first time I've danced. I'm kind of a little weirded out about that."

Having his fans, those notorious Claymates, in the audience could ease his mind and let him know he's among friends. "They're coming out in full force," he says. "They'll be in the house."

And so will Clay - through May 4. When Fantasia's spotty "Purple" attendance record comes up, Aiken declares he's not using her as a role model when it comes to showing up for performances. "I plan," he says, "on making them all."

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Broadway's Spamalot Welcomes a Trio of Stars Jan. 18

Broadway's Spamalot Welcomes a Trio of Stars Jan. 18

By Ernio Hernandez

18 Jan 2008

Clay Aiken makes his Broadway debut in Spamalot

Joan Marcus

On Jan. 18 Monty Python's Spamalot, the Tony-winning musical at the Shubert Theatre, welcomes "American Idol" finalist Clay Aiken, West End leading lady Hannah Waddingham and the return of original cast member Christopher Sieber.

Aiken is making his Broadway debut in the roles of Sir Robin/Guard/Brother Maynard, which were originated on Broadway by Tony winner David Hyde Pierce. Aiken's stint is currently scheduled to continue through May 4.

Waddingham joins the Broadway show as the new Lady of the Lake in a swap with Broadway actress Marin Mazzie, who assumed that role in the London production of Spamalot. Sieber, the original (and Tony Award-nominated) Sir Galahad/The Black Knight/Prince Herbert's Father on Broadway, returns to the cast in his original roles.

The trio join a Spamalot cast that currently includes Jonathan Hadary (King Arthur), Tom Deckman (Prince Herbert), Rick Holmes (Sir Lancelot), David Hibbard (Patsy) and Brad Oscar (Sir Bedevere).

"Clay Aiken is amazing beyond that glorious voice. Turns out he is an excellent comic actor and a master of character," said director Mike Nichols in a previous release. "People will be surprised by his wide ranging talent, since the first impression is of great country charm and a singer to remember. This guy is not only a star, he is a lot more. We are lucky to get him for Spamalot."

Aiken, who was bested by Ruben Studdard during the second season of "American Idol", has gone on to sell more than 6 million albums, co-author a best selling book ("Learning to Sing: Hearing the Music in Your Life") and play six sold-out concert tours. He was a focus of the short-lived Off-Broadway musical Idol: The Musical and has appeared on "Ed," "Saturday Night Live" and "Scrubs."

Monty Python's Spamalot, which celebrated its 1,000th performance Aug. 9, 2007, opened at Broadway's Shubert Theatre on March 17, 2005, following previews from Feb. 14.

Mike Nichols ("The Graduate," "Angels in America") directed and Casey Nicholaw (The Drowsy Chaperone) choreographed the show that was inspired by the 1975 feature film comedy "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."

The musical tells the tale of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table on their quest from God for the Holy Grail - with a short stop in the dazzling Spam-filled land of Camelot.

Spamalot earned the 2005 Tony Award for Best Musical and took home honors for direction (Mike Nichols) and one of its stars (Sara Ramirez). The musical also enjoys runs in London, Las Vegas and a national tour. An Australian production opened in Melbourne in November.

For information on all Spamalot incarnations, visit montypythonsspamalot.com.

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Associated Press/Yahoo! News

Ex-Idol Clay Aiken Slips Into "Spamalot"

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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New York Magazine

The Happy Hickster

The Happy Hickster

Clay Aiken sounds like Tootsie, looks like Opie, and hates to go out after dark. How will he ever survive New York?

* By Ariel Levy

* Published Jan 27, 2008


Clay Aiken is communicating with a groomer about his plans for his famous red hair. “We’re just kind of experimenting—if we can get it where we don’t have to cut it, wonderful. If we have to cut it, cut it,” he tells her. The stylist stares back at him, blankly. She has just met him and she will probably never see him again after this photo shoot, and she has pancake makeup and a blow-dryer but no scissors. “Oh, ahm not even talkin’ about today,” he says. “I mean big picture.” She still looks confused but asks what he will be wearing for the shoot. “We wore one of the possibilities,” he says, pointing at his sweater. “The warmer of the possibilities. But I don’t know, what are we wearin’?” He goes into the bathroom with his tour manager, Mary, and reemerges in a purply-blue striped shirt and a tie made out of matching material. “I will tell ya I wore this shirt in 2004 and I still fit into it. Because let me tell you: I got fat on that Paxil! I gained 30 pounds. And then I stopped tookin’ it … Tookin’ it. Pah-leeze quote me on that!” He lets fly one of his giddy guffaws. “I stopped takin’ it, and I swear twenty pounds just fell off.” It was for anxiety, not depression, Aiken says. “I was always nervous in public situations, and then I went from nobody lookin’ at me to everywhere I go, even if they don’t come up to me, they’re…” He mimes whispering and furtive glances.

Ever since Aiken placed second on American Idol in 2003, he gets recognized everywhere, always. “Even in New York. I was always told people in New York don’t care, and I think they probably don’t that much, but there’s a little bit of a different thing about Idol. I was with the woman who runs the ambassador program for unicef”—Aiken was appointed an ambassador in 2004—“so she’s worked with Katie Couric, people who are very recognizable, and she was one of the people who said that to me. And it was funny because a minute after she said it, as we’re walkin’ down the street, no fewer than five people said something to me. Just screamin’ from across the street! She said, ‘Ah have never seen anything lahk this in my life!’”

Although Aiken can depend on the adulation of strangers, he doesn’t know anyone in New York and is worried he will be lonely now that he’s moved here to take a role in the Broadway musical Spamalot, based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail. “I almost cried on the first day on my way to rehearsal,” he says. “I’m here until May 4, and I’ve never lived alone before.”

Realize: Before Aiken journeyed to Los Angeles to appear on American Idol at age 24, he had never been on an airplane. He had barely left his native North Carolina, except to drive west to the Tennessee border or south to Myrtle Beach with his beloved “Mama,” who wrote him inspirational notes on his lunch bags every day and to whom he dedicated his best-selling 2004 memoir, Learning to Sing. The book is an account of his childhood as an “insult magnet” who “looked like Howdy Doody,” and his stunning post-Idol rise to fame. (Aiken was the first artist in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 to debut at No. 1 with his first single. His album sold 613,000 copies in a week, more than any debut solo artist’s had in a decade. Aiken has now sold over 6 million copies of his three albums. His fans are obsessed with him and call themselves Claymates—they subdivide by nationality into Claysians and Claynadians and so on.) In Learning to Sing, Aiken writes, “I want to use my voice to inspire good in others. I never want to produce anything that a family could not enjoy together.… I do this because it feels right. I do this because if I didn’t my mother would snatch me bald-headed. As she should.”

Hair in place, shirt determined, Aiken takes his spot in front of the camera and makes a sort of soulful wince. “What’d you do, rob a church?” Aiken suddenly asks, looking around Andres Serrano’s studio at the photographer’s collection of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century carved Christs hanging from the stone walls. Serrano says the statuary comes mostly from antique shops in France and Italy and points out a Spanish Madonna from the twelfth century. Former senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina—for whom Aiken voted—made Serrano famous in the late eighties by attacking his Piss Christ, a red-tinged photograph of a crucifix submerged in a glass container of his own urine.

Next: Why Aiken plays the 'hick dummy' shtick.

“Well,” Aiken says, “it’s very creative in here.”

Aiken is religious himself and attended Southern Baptist church as a child. “I went back last October with my mom for the first time in five years, and it was very uncomfortable because there was people who didn’t listen to what was going on; they just stared at me the entire time. I was like, This is chah-urch, people! This is God’s house, not a meet and greet!” He sounds very much like Dustin Hoffman as Tootsie. “But I’m in New York now. If I can find a church and sneak in, it’s definitely a goal of mine. I definitely want to get back to it, even though you don’t have to go to church to be a good Christian. That’s just not the case. You don’t have to go to temple to be a good … you know … what’s the noun?” He’s kidding. Sort of.

I have to wonder if Clay Aiken is prepared for New York City. It’s not that he’s stupid. He’s actually well-informed, really into the elections (sad that Joe Biden dropped out; Aiken has become a Democrat), and quite the impressive little charity worker. Before Idol, Aiken was a special-ed teacher and, frustrated by the failure of his beloved YMCA to take special-needs cases in its summer camps, he has since started his own foundation for disabled youth. “And I visit middle schools after I go to Uganda or wherever with UNICEF, but I rarely say, ‘Donate.’ I usually say, ‘Read about what’s going on in the world! There’s a war going on for twenty years in Uganda!’ The media doesn’t talk about this because they’re more concerned with Paris and Britney and … ”

Clay Aiken?

“Hell-o! Mah God. What really freaks me out is now the kids who are growing up, if they do watch the news, it doesn’t have anything to do with the world, so what’s gonna happen? Is any kid gonna wanna be involved in public affairs?”

No, he’s not stupid, but playing the hick dummy is definitely part of his shtick. “All the people are so nice.… They can prob’ly tell I’m not very bright,” he says of his new castmates at lunch the day after the photo shoot and follows it up with his showy southern guffaw. But he’s actually perfectly sharp and also perfectly normal-looking: Sitting on a red banquette at Sardi’s, Aiken is not fat but not thin, strawberry blond, freckled, sporting your basic face. His thing, though, since he came into the public eye, has been to proclaim his homeliness. When he was on Idol, he prophylactically drew attention to his big ears, shrewdly beating the evil Simon Cowell to the punch. Here’s how Aiken explains it in his book: “I said it directly: ‘I know I look weird; I don’t care.’ So what did Simon say that night? He said, ‘You know what, you may not look like a pop star, but I think that’s what makes you so special.’ Gotcha!”

But New York’s is not a culture that smiles on false humility or unprocessed self-loathing. And this is the angle Aiken has been working for decades. “Ahm kinda nerdy,” he declares. “I’m not cool, I’m nerdy.” This is absolutely central to his self-conception—or his marketing strategy, which at this point may be indistinguishable. He uses the words dork and geek and nerd more in one hour than most people do in a year.

And while it is true that he is wearing a green sweater with yellow trim on one sleeve and pink trim on the other over a white shirt with bright-green stripes, it is also true that Clay Aiken is beloved, a bizarre sex symbol. He has been in People magazine as one of its Sexiest Men Alive. Despite the fact that Aiken is so widely assumed to be gay that Rosie O’Donnell accused Kelly Ripa of homophobia when Ripa recoiled at having Aiken put his hand over her mouth during an interview, there are women—a lot of them—who absolutely lust after him. So many women threw their underpants onstage during his first tour that on the following two Aiken tours, he had commemorative panties for sale at the concession stand. The pace of the panties has slowed recently, but the occasional pair still flies Clayward as he belts out “I Want to Know What Love Is” or “Everything I Do (I Do It for You).” “I just went on tour for Christmas, and I think somebody threw some up onstage,” he says. “I was with the Minnesota symphony, which I thought was a little out of place—panties with a symphony. But on the Idol tour? I got five or six a night. Ah mean, it was a joke. I think they collected some 300 panties.” Given this, I ask Aiken if his dork identification isn’t a little outmoded.

Next: The Claymates show up at Spamalot.

“Let’s not fool ourselves,” he says with his eyebrows up in his arch, queeny way. “The truth is? There are people like Justin Timberlake, males who are cool on radio right now, and then there’s me. If I heard myself in a dance club? If I went into a dance club—which I never do—and I heard Clay Aiken come on, I’d roll my eyes and get out. But you know what? I’m fine with being kind of vanilla! It’s oh-kye!” In his book, Aiken says that it’s not just clubs but also bars he dislikes: “The only reason people go to bars is to get drunk and have sex. To me, bars are what hell is like.”

He imagines his social life here will be “nonexistent, really. I’m not a nighttime person.” He does not plan on dating, and he is not involved with anyone. “Heck, no,” he says. “My dogs.” He has never had a romantic relationship with anyone, unless you count the girls he took to dances back in high school in Raleigh. “I just don’t have an interest in … any of that at all. I have got too much on my plate,” he says. “I’d rather focus on one thing and do that when I can devote time to it, and right now, I just don’t have any desire.”

But Aiken is 29 years old and he is also a human. Surely he must have needs. Urges. He contemplates this in silence for 20 or 30 seconds. “Ah think maybe I don’t! I mean, not really. I’ve just kind of shut it off, maybe. Is that bad?”

I believe that some people just don’t like bars. But I also believe that sometimes people create the conditions necessary for change before they realize they want to change in the first place. You don’t come to the city that never sleeps and put yourself in a show that mocks priests and culminates in a gay wedding if you are uninterested in expanding your horizons. Perhaps Clay Aiken is not a homosexual; not every person who is sexually thwarted is in the closet. But the thing that makes Aiken seem much younger than a nearly 30-year-old man is that he insists so incessantly that he is brimming with folksy self-acceptance when he so clearly doesn’t have a clue. I don’t think Aiken’s compulsive self-deprecation, his insistence that he is funny-looking, a dork, a nerd, a neuter, is going to withstand eighteen weeks in New York. I am convinced this city is going to crack Clay Aiken like an egg. Then I see him on Broadway.

I had forgotten: Between Eighth Avenue and Broadway, there’s a little patch of regular America, right in the center of Manhattan. Regular America loves Clay Aiken exactly the way he is. (They voted for him.) “Watch out,” says the guy at the box office who hands me my tickets for Spamalot. “Those Clay Aiken fans are insane. They scream like teenagers, but they’re middle-aged women!” Everyone manages to keep her underwear on during the performance I see, but they do make a joyful noise every time Aiken appears onstage in the role originated by David Hyde Pierce.

In a Broadway musical, Aiken is perfect—he can throw that cheesy, octave-spanning man-voice of his around all he wants and hit all those honky gospel notes. It sounds great! He can slowly, slowly raise his arms in the air as he holds a note for 45 minutes. He can make his corny, cartoony facial expressions, and onstage, they’re utterly appropriate. Also, musical theater takes place in a land only slightly more erotically charged than Smurf Village, so here Aiken’s suppressed, indeterminate sexuality seems logical, usual, male. And he doesn’t seem hick. Partly because the twang is replaced by an equally theatrical Cockney and partly because he’s in a funny show. (The theme of his big number is “You won’t succeed on Broadway if you don’t have any Jews.”) Every joke gets a roar. “When I’m up here onstage, I’ll be the idol of my age,” he sings, and the women go crazy. You can almost feel them sucked toward him by some unholy mix of maternal yearning and abject horniness.

This is something he’d told me about at lunch, when he acknowledged that the most ardent of his fans are not the preteen girls but their moms. “Don’t ask me why,” he said. “Ah wish I knew. Women, middle-aged women, like Clay Aiken.” But he has a “chasm” when it comes to his male audience that he does not like. “Somehow, they’ve kinda fallen out. For some reason, gay male, straight male, young kids, even adult men, some people are a little more hesitant to say they’re fans. I don’t know if I’m not cool enough for them or what.” This is why Aiken chose to make his Broadway debut in Spamalot—a show that rhymes “a lot” with “twat,” requires Aiken to break his no-cussing policy, and makes him say the noun Jew over and over—and not any of the other, more wholesome theatrical productions that have approached him since Idol. “You read the reviews, and everybody said Spamalot is one of the first shows that’s really just pulled guys into Broadway. So if the Claymates and the middle-aged women show up because of me, maybe some of these guys will get there and think, Okay, he’s not as dorky as I thought he was. He could pull off Monty Python. So at the end of the day, the next album will come out and they’ll think, Oh, I saw him in Spamalot, I’ll give him a shot. I hope that maybe Spamalot will do for us as we will do for Spamalot.”

Us. We. He uses those words like one of those aggressively married women. But then he is married—to his brand, his team of staff, his celebrity, self-promotion. That’s what he was trying to tell me: He’s promosexual. And in New York City, that’s not so unusual. Perhaps Clay Aiken will fit right in.

Next: Aiken's Hairstyles Through the Years

The Incredible Rise (and Many Hairstyles) of Clay Aiken


Getty Images; Vince Bucci

Getty Images; Lisa Rose/AP; Bruce Glikas/Film Magic)

Carolina Boy

Clay claims he was “clumsy” and “spastic” as a child growing up in Raleigh, North Carolina.

American Idol

Behind the scenes, Clay was still just a special-ed teacher who loved his mama.

Sweet Second Place

The spiky-headed singer lost the Idol title to Ruben Studdard, who was dropped by his record company in December 2007.

Hollywood Virgin

When Clay appeared at L.A.’s Megastore, two Claymates ended up tattooing his autograph onto their backs.

Blame It on Broadway

Clay (not Carrot Top) bows and smiles at the many mothers who flocked to his opening night in Spamalot.

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Clay Aiken: I'm Not Justin Timberlake

Clay Aiken: I'm Not Justin Timberlake

By Stephen M. Silverman

Originally posted Monday January 28, 2008 02:35 PM EST

There's an old saying that New York City can be the loneliest place in the world, and one new arrival to the crowded metropolis – Clay Aiken – may just bear that out.

"I almost cried on the first day on my way to rehearsal," the American Idol favorite, 29, tells New York magazine about starting his new gig in the Broadway musical Spamalot. "I'm here until May 4, and I've never lived alone before."

Asked if his reputation as, well, the kind of kid who'd be the last one picked for the school sports team might hinder his social life, Aiken says, "Let's not fool ourselves. ... There are people like Justin Timberlake, males who are cool on radio right now, and then there's me. If I heard myself in a dance club? If I went into a dance club – which I never do – and I heard Clay Aiken come on, I'd roll my eyes and get out."

In his own defense, Aiken adds, "But you know what? I'm fine with being kind of vanilla! It’s oh-kye!"

Besides, clubs and bars just aren't for him. "The only reason people go to bars is to get drunk and have sex. To me, bars are what hell is like."

The picture included is the Sir Robin/chicken publicity picture

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Clay Aiken

Clay Aiken

by Kathy Henderson

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 show 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.

How did you feel after your first Broadway performance?

I thought, "Well, thank god that's over!" [Laughs.] A lot of people had asked me if I was nervous, and I didn't know the appropriate response. I really wasn't. I don't know if that's bad—to not be nervous. Yeah, it was the first time I was doing this, but the audience thing doesn't freak me out that much. I figured I was going to screw up at some point, so there's no reason to be nervous about wondering when [laughs]. It was actually somewhat relaxing, because the rehearsals are sooo grueling. It's not just the schedule, it's all the information and learning "this that, this that, this that, this that." Having the opportunity to go out and do everything you learned was kind of refreshing and kind of nice.

Had you ever acted on stage?

I played Will Parker in Oklahoma! when I was in tenth grade.

That's a good part for you.

After that, nothing. I got cut from a high school musical [Guys and Dolls]. I must have done so bad, they didn't want me back! [Laughs.]

Were you a fan of Broadway musicals?

I didn't really know much about them. My knowledge of Broadway musicals ended at Oklahoma! When you do a show in high school, it's supposed to be a learning experience, so you learn a little bit about where the show started and who wrote it and where it was produced, etcetera. I saw Miss Saigon on Broadway when I was in tenth grade; I drove up here with some friends from church and we saw that, and it was pretty impressive. But as I've told a number of people, the only other show I remember seeing outside of high school was a regional theater production of Big River when I was in seventh or eighth grade.

And Martin Moran, who preceded you as Sir Robin on Broadway, was the star of that show, right?

Yeah, that was kind of neat for me. I still haven't met him, actually!

So, who talked you into coming to Broadway?

I wasn't talked into it. My manager is not a pushy person at all; he brings opportunities to me and says, "Think about it. If you want to do it, that's great. If you don't, you don't." We had had...I wouldn't say offers, I would say interest from a number of shows in the past.

Which ones?

I'm not telling who I didn't pick! We'd had interest, but it was never something I ever thought I'd do. Nothing really struck me as exciting, but my manager said, "You know what? If you're going to do one, I think [spamalot] is the one to do." And I was like, "Really?" So I saw the show and then I called him and said, "How do you figure this is the one to do?" He said, "Because of that reaction—because no one is going to expect it. It's not a show where you get to sing huge ballads and moving, soaring numbers. It's something completely different, and if you're going to do something like this, you should do it not as 'I'm bored,' but as 'This is an opportunity for me to grow and learn something new and branch out a little bit.'" And that's the reason I wanted to do it.

You didn't have to audition, or try out a British accent?

Well, almost all the people I work with are British; it's been that way for five years, so I just mimic them. I did meet with [spamalot director] Mike Nichols and we discussed some things and I did a few lines with him. They didn't ask me to sing or dance; they probably should have asked me to dance. We sat down and very casually walked through a few things that they had already asked me to do before we committed to it on either side. I think they wanted to see how they felt about it and I wanted to see how I felt about it too, so we kind of auditioned each other. I didn't audition Mike Nichols—don't say that! But I wanted to get a feel for what this would be like, because I knew it was going to be very different from what I'm used to.

That meeting 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.

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.

I doubt that!

Are you kidding me? When I'm singing a song onstage in concert, I'm wondering what I'm doing for dinner. I'm like, "Oh wow, look at that person in the third row. Does she know her buttons are not in order?" I don't worry, I don't listen to the lyrics, I don't pay attention at all. I know that sounds horrible and I probably shouldn't tell you that, but it's true. I can think, "Oh that sounded good, I did well there." I can critique myself as I go. Here, I'm still thinking about "OK, left, right, jump, left, up, down, left, left, switch switch, flip, turn!" I don't have enough brain cells left over to consider whether or not I'm doing it well.

Is it fun to sing the show's politically incorrect song about Broadway shows needing Jews to be a success?

You know, I'm kind of politically incorrect myself. I do worry sometimes, because it's a very fine line between humor and anti-Semitism, so I'm very careful as to how I say it. It's interesting, though—the first time I saw the show, I remember that being the song I laughed the hardest at. Every time I've seen it, it always gets the biggest laugh. I don't know that I'm doing it justice because I can't really get the audience's reaction. I'll watch other people's scenes and listen to the audience laughing and enjoying themselves, but in mine, I can't hear the audience for the amount of breathing that's going on in my ear [laughs].

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.

How does eight Broadway shows a week compare in difficulty to ten weeks of competition on American Idol?

Sixteen weeks! Without question, Idol was harder because there was the rehearsal period, kind of like I was telling you about for this, and the performance period all put together. There were so many different things involved, with eight-hour days, 10-hour days, 13, 14, every day of the week on Idol. Here, it is eight shows a week, but only two and a half hours a night. The weekends are unbelievably exhausting because we do five shows, but Idol does beat it as far as the amount of work. I don't think people understand how much work is involved for the contestants on that show. It's not just showing up on Tuesday and Wednesday night. At the same time, it's different than a touring schedule. On tour, I do five shows a week, and they're not as physically exhausting because I'm not dancing. But I'm sleeping on a bus and traveling to a different city every night, so it's six of one, half a dozen of the other.

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.]

How do you see your career progressing? Will you continue to do covers or record new music?

We did the cover thing last time; it's not a goal to do that again right now. Our next album is going to be all new stuff. That's kind of what I wanted to do last time and we took a detour. We're in the process of working on it. There's not horribly much to say about the next album, but we're hoping it's out in May.

Where are you on the spectrum of, say, a singer like Michael Buble vs. the kind of pop music they play on a top-40 station?

I'm not going to compare myself to anybody. I don't know that I want to be on the spectrum. I don't plan to be on the radio. I'm not cool enough to be on radio. I'm still dorky and not relevant enough to some people to be on radio, and it's not a goal of mine. We've got this amazing producer who's going to do the entire album, and one of the challenges for him has been not worrying about radio, because he's been so attuned to trying to make hits. We're like, "Uhhh, nooo," because once you try to cater to the radio stations, you stop catering to (a) the listener and (B) me. I was discussing this very thing with my executive producers the other day and we said, if you try to make the music fit what you think radio is going to want, you're going to miss the mark. But if we just go out and do what we do well, then it's going to be natural and maybe radio will like it. It's not something that I'm averse to; I would absolutely love it if it happens, but it's not something to work toward at the expense of doing what we want to do.

You were a teacher before American Idol, and now you're involved with UNICEF. Do you see yourself performing for the rest of your life, or could you walk away and do something totally different?

I'm never really good at answering that question; the answer changes every day. I enjoy what I'm doing right now. As long as I'm having fun, I'm going to continue to do it. When it stops being fun, I'll stop. But right now, it's fun.

See Clay Aiken in Spamalot at the Shubert Theatre.

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Clay Aiken Album to Be Released in May

Clay Aiken Album to Be Released in May

By David Caplan

Originally posted Wednesday February 20, 2008 07:00 PM EST

Get ready Claymates, a new Clay Aiken album is just around the corner. The former American Idol contestant is in New York City currently recording his fourth album, which he expects to be released in early May, he tells PEOPLE exclusively.

"We're hoping the next album will be out about May 6," Aiken, who is currently starring in the Broadway run of Monty Python's Spamalot as Sir Robin, tells PEOPLE.

Aiken's keeping a hectic schedule, recording tracks for the RCA Records album when he's not on stage. "We've picked most of the songs," Aiken, 29, says. "Sonically, I don't know that we're going down any path that's crazy. I'm not trying to be cool, I'm not trying to be hip. I'm not trying to do anything other than sing stuff that I'm good at."

So what's the inspiration behind Aiken's upcoming album? "In the past five years there's a lot I've learned about life, and I think people learn a lot in the twenties," says the singer. "So we found a lot of songs that speak to that. I would like to wrap a lot of the music around that theme. It's early to promise that, but it's a goal."

Aiken adds he has no plans to perform a duet with another singer, but he knows at least one star he'd love to sing with. "I've always wanted to do a duet with Martina McBride. I think she has one of the best voices," he says.

And is Aiken planning an image overhaul, tied to the album? He says, "Last time I came out with dark crazy hair. We did that intentionally. But I'm just going to do what I do this time. We don't have any plans this time. But I've got the red wig [from Spamalot] – maybe I'll do that!"

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Entertainment Weekly (ew.com)

Stage Review: Monty Python's Spamalot

Stage Review

Monty Python's Spamalot (2005)


The American Idol runner-up isn't completely winning as the not-so-brave Sir Robin

By Clark Collis

One of the Monty Python team's favored ways to end a sketch was to have Graham Chapman don military garb and declare that matters had become too ''silly.'' Alas, Chapman might have approved of Clay Aiken's stint in Spamalot, the hilarious, Tony-winning musical version of the 1975 movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

The American Idol runner-up — appearing until May 4 as the cowardly Sir Robin — is too tentative, withdrawn, and, well, un-silly for a gloriously berserk retelling of Arthurian legend that features vicious hand puppets, absurdly rude Frenchmen, and fourth-wall-demolishing riffs about the Great White Way. To be fair, Aiken handles Robin's big ''You Won't Succeed on Broadway'' number well enough that it doesn't become a self-fulfilling prophecy. He also has a good deal of fun in two smaller comic parts, the idiotic Guard 1 and Brother Maynard, keeper of the ''Holy Hand Grenade.''

But the true Broadway success is Hannah Waddingham, the British actress now playing the Lady of the Lake. The role made a star of originator Sara Ramirez (now a Grey's Anatomy regular); if there's any justice, it will do the same for Waddingham, whose imperious meta-diva effortlessly mocks the baroque vocal gymnastics found on, say, a certain Fox reality show. She's both sublime and very silly indeed. (Tickets: 212-239-6200) B+

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The Associated Press

Clay Aiken Deftly Acts Supremely Silly in "Monty Python's Spamalot"

Clay Aiken Deftly Acts Supremely Silly


Feb. 22, 2008, 2:42 PM EST

Let's clear things up right away: Clay Aiken can handle supremely silly.

That's not an inconsiderable talent when you are appearing in something as daffy as "Monty Python's Spamalot," the madcap medieval musical that has just added the "American Idol" alum to its cast.

We knew Aiken could sing. "Idol," television's favorite trial-by-fire, proved that. So it was only natural that Broadway, eager for new faces that might sell tickets, would call — just as it did for Fantasia, Frenchie Davis, Constantine Maroulis and others from "Idol."

But don't go expecting a star turn. Aiken is a team player — and that's meant as a compliment. The ingratiating performer fits seamlessly into the extended high jinks of "Spamalot," which has been running at the Shubert Theatre since March 2005.

The guy gets the goofy humor that is the Python trademark and goes with the flow, most prominently when he is portraying the perpetually petrified Sir Robin. It's one of three roles he plays in the musical.

Aiken also exudes the physical buffoonery that underlines the cartoonlike nature of the characters and their quest to find the Holy Grail. He radiates a delightful benign bewilderment. What's more, for someone born and raised in North Carolina, Aiken does a credible British accent.

And the rest of the production, directed by Mike Nichols, holds up quite nicely, too. The tale, concocted by "Python" legend Eric Idle, is loosely based on the movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," and film buffs will recognize some of their favorite bits from the film. Idle also wrote the lyrics and shares credit with John Du Prez 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, is sensational. She's funny, sexy and blessed with one of those powerhouse voices that really shakes up the score.

But then Nichols and choreographer Casey Nicholaw have kept the musical in tiptop shape. From Jonathan Hadary's robust King Arthur to the preening Galahad of Christopher Sieber (an original New York cast member who recently returned to the show) to Rick Holmes' sexually fluid Lancelot, the cast gets a high amount of laughs from low comedy.

And then there's Tom Deckman as the hilariously fey Prince Herbert and David Hibbard as the aptly named Patsy, singing and tapping his way through the show's best known moment of musical cheer, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life." This is ensemble comic lunacy at its most inspired.

But attention Aiken fans. He appears in "Monty Python's Spamalot" only through May 4.

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Clay Aiken Fits as Sir Robin in "Spamalot"


Review: Clay Aiken fits as Sir Robin in 'Spamalot



February 25, 2008

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.

MONTY PYTHON'S SPAMALOT. Book and lyrics by Eric Idle, music by Idle and John Du Prez, directed by Mike Nichols. Shubert Theatre, 225 W. 44th St. Tickets: $36.50-111.25. Call 212-239-6200. Seen Friday.

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Clay Aiken Spills the Beans on Upcoming Album

Clay Aiken Spills the Beans on Upcoming Album

Posted: Today at 7:07 a.m.

Updated: Today at 5:20 p.m.

Raleigh native Clay Aiken is a busy man these days, performing at night on Broadway as Sir Robin in "Monty Python's Spamalot," and working on his upcoming studio album during the day.

It's been five years since Aiken put together an original album, or at least he says, 95 percent original.

"Some of it is, you know, a kind of half-way version of original," he said. "But it's all stuff that I'd imagine 90 percent of people have not heard."

The songs had to meet two qualifications.

"They have to be something I'll enjoy and that I can do well," Aiken said. "And at the same time, they have to kind of fit into this common theme of 'On my way here."

"On My Way Here" is one of the tracks and might end up being the album title.

Aiken was working on two songs the day he invited WRAL's Lynda Loveland to the recording studio. The second is called "Ashes".

"Someone told me what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger," he said. "(The song) talks about bad things that might happen to you. You know, there's been some stuff that's happened in the last five years that I would rather have not happened, but you learn from things like that."

For the first time, Aiken's album is being produced by one person. He kept that person secret, until now.

Known only as Kipper, he is from the United Kingdom and might be best known for producing a Grammy award-winning album for Sting.

"We wanted to find someone who had a great reputation and had done stuff in the past that was kind of edgy and current," Aiken said.

Kipper is coming up with a new sound for Aiken and even wrote a song for him that's got a bit of an R&B vibe to it.

"We've captured some really great moments," Kipper said. "I'm very optimistic we're going to have a record where people will go, 'Is that Clay? Is that Clay Aiken?"

Aiken also hopes to include a song he's penned with producer David Foster, "Lover All Alone."

"It was my first attempt at writing anything, and David Foster wrote the melody," Aiken said. "He said, 'Take it home and write some lyrics."

It was seven months later, however, when Aiken was inspired.

"And then one day, I was sitting in Los Angeles, and all of a sudden, I had this idea, and I wrote it in, maybe, 15 minutes," he said.

Thursday at 5 p.m., Clay takes WRAL's Lynda Loveland behind the scenes of "Spamalot."

Reporter: Lynda Loveland

Photographer: Geof Levine

Web Editor: Kelly Gardner

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Aiken Reveals Backstage Secrets of "Spamalot"

Aiken Reveals Backstage Secrets of 'Spamalot'

Posted: 30 minutes ago

Updated: 15 minutes ago

From singer to actor, Raleigh native Clay Aiken is taking a spin on Broadway in "Monty Python's Spamalot.” He plays several roles, but mainly Sir Robin.

Backstage of the Shubert Theatre recently, Aiken walked by the Wall of Fame.

“I have not made my way on here yet. Apparently, I’m not quite there,” he said.

Aiken might not be there yet, but another Raleigh native is.

“Lauren Kennedy of the Kennedy’s of the Kennedy Theatre downtown. She was the Second Lady of the Lake in Spamalot,” he said.

Aiken goes through several costume changes during the play, but he keeps ripping one in particular.

“Literally, they’ve had to modify things to make it work for me, because they’ve never had someone dance quite as well as me,” he joked.

So, where is the rip?

“Right in the crotch, as a matter of fact,” he said.

Wigs are another part of his costume. He wears three, and they’re all made out of real hair.

“Look! Even my wig is going gray from all the stress. Look! Do you see that?” he laughed.

Aiken’s dressing room is “sooo spacious,” he joked.

Besides the wigs, costumes and dressing room, Aiken says theater is tough work.

“I’ve dropped a line here or there, and it’s always, you know, quite interesting when it just gets silent on stage. And I think to myself, ‘Is someone supposed to be talking? Oh! It’s me! I’m supposed to say my thing,’” he said.

Clay's big solo comes in the second half. Sometimes it's hard to breathe, he said.

“Whenever the male ensemble starts singing, I stop singing, because I have to breathe. And I can’t breathe if I keep singing, so I’m just mouthing it. The secret’s revealed,” he laughed.

One of Aiken’s fans said she has seen “Spamalot” 17 times.

“(It’s the) funniest show on Earth, and Clay is fantastic,” said Evelyn Clasicas.

“He’s funny,” said Lindsay Reiss. “I thought this role was perfect for him.”

The role was modified a bit for Aiken, with a reference to the launch of his career. He took a shortcut to Broadway and said he was initially worried about how the other actors would treat him.

“Everybody’s been really great. And not one person, and I’d tell you if there (were), I’d tell you their first, last name and address. And nobody has been anything less than wonderful,” he said.

Aiken’s last performance in “Spamalot” is May 4.

Reporter: Lynda Loveland

Photographer: Geof Levine

Web Editor: Kelly Hinchcliffe

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It Takes Two

It Takes Two

By Andrew Gans

15 Mar 2008

Two time's the charm for "American Idol" runner-up and Spamalot star Clay Aiken.

Two may be Clay Aiken's lucky number. After all, the former "American Idol" contestant placed second during the second season of the hit Fox TV series, and that runner-up status has not affected his career in the least. In fact, he has long outsold that season's "Idol" winner, the affable, velvet-voiced Ruben Studdard. It also took Aiken two viewings to realize that Monty Python's Spamalot was just the right vehicle in which to make his Broadway debut.

When Raleigh, NC, native Aiken first saw the Tony-winning musical at the Shubert Theatre, he admits with a laugh, "I thought it was the stupidest thing I've ever seen in my life." But on his second visit he revised his opinion when he realized "there is zero plot. I sat down and I watched it that way, and . . . understanding what it is and that it's making fun of traditional musicals with silly British humor — it's hilarious."

In Spamalot Aiken has assumed the roles of Sir Robin, Guard and Brother Maynard, which were created by Curtains Tony winner David Hyde Pierce but most recently played by Broadway veteran Martin Moran. And, it turns out that Moran was one of Aiken's earliest inspirations. "When I was in seventh grade, my mom took me to see Big River. It was the very first time that I looked onstage and I thought, 'Wait a second, people can make a living singing!' That kind of excited me — it was the first time I really thought to myself, 'Maybe this is what I'd like to do, something with music.' Ironically, the person who played Huck Finn in that production of Big River was a guy named Marty Moran."

Although he does get the chance to display his beautiful, rangy, crystal-clear voice in a few numbers, Spamalot doesn't offer the gifted tenor as much opportunity for vocal acrobatics as several other Broadway musicals might. "We had other shows approach us," Aiken says, ". . . but the reason we were interested in Spamalot was it was completely different than anything I had done in the past, and it was something that I don't think people would have expected me to be interested in. That was kind of a draw, the fact that it was opposite of typical Clay Aiken stuff."

Aiken — whose best-selling recordings include "Measure of a Man," "A Thousand Different Ways" and "Merry Christmas with Love" — says he's also working on another studio album, which he hopes will hit stores when he finishes his run in Spamalot. "It'll be out in May, hopefully. Of course, no album I've ever done has come out on schedule, so that doesn't mean anything! Then, we'll see where that takes us, whether it'll get us back on tour . . . who knows?

"I've always said that I try to look at [show business] as an interesting summer-camp experience. I don't know how long it's going to stick around or how long it'll last, so I'm going to have fun and do what I can while I'm here and not try to foresee ten years down the road and be disappointed — because ten years down the road I could be working at McDonald's."

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Spamalot Marks its 3rd Anniversary with 3-D!

Eric Idle's hilarious Broadway musical Monty Python's Spamalot celebrated its third anniversary on March 18 at the Shubert Theatre. So how do King Arthur, Sir Robin, the Lady of the Lake and their court of madcap medieval knights celebrate such an occasion? Well, by going 3-D! The sold-out audience were given special glasses for the event, along with a special edition, collectible certificate of achievement. What did the glasses do? Nothing, which was the Python-esque point of the joke. Click on to see Spamalot leading players Jonathan Hadary, Clay Aiken and Hannah Waddingham sporting their stylish specs in celebration of their show's big day!

Photos by Jenny Anderson/Broadway.com

There's also a new picture of the trio:


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