# 64: A super smart, caring, determined, classy, easy-going, and genuinely good, likeable guy


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Saw this on ConClayve:

Picture Clay as a cuter, red-haired Jim Parsons and you'll have Man in Chair. That voice but with Clays unique physicality. He gets to goofy-dance and jump on the bed and mimics both the ingenue and the Chaperone and he makes you laugh and then the laughter catches in your throat and you tear up because he starts to fall apart.

The show itself is loads of campy fun. The Chaperone is Lady of the Lake, if you know what I mean She's THAT woman, the diva. The bride, the Lothario, the gangsters, they're all smashing. The sets and costumes are terrific. The music deliciously bad. The orchestra is live and fabulous. Fun stuff, a loving send up of every overblown stage stereotype.

And clay keeps,it all together, gives it all substance and meaning and heart. He's perfectly perfect.

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I really enjoyed the play last night and laughed out loud quite a few times. The man in the chair part was very subdued in the first part of the play. As a recluse, his life rotated around his fantasy world of musical theatre. The actors involved in the play within a play, were way over the top. As the play went on the man in the chair became more and more animated until he began to relate some of the events to his personal life. Clay did an amazing job as the man in the chair particularly when TMITC started talking about his personal life. The emotion in his voice was at times startling yet touching. I wish I could have seen more of his face but a taller man was in front of me at such an angle that he blocked out the chair for me. Fortunately Clay moved around the stage during the performance so I was able to see him very clearly at times. His gorgeous profile was gasp worthy and slightly distracting. I didn't think he was an older character, but instead was a man who avoided reality. I highly recommend anyone who can, to go see it.

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I'm bored out of my mind! I'm at MDAnderson with my DH and its a lot of sitting around for me. So I found an electrical outlet and they have free wi fi. My iPad went bye bye last week so I forced myself to buy another one! When the guy said it could not be fixed and a reconditioned replacement of Generation1 was $250 dollars it took me all of 2 seconds to get a new one. I'd have gone crazy today without it!

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Our seats tonight were to die for....4th row in front of the chair, and no one sat in the row in front of us so we had a completely unobstructed view. Last night I watched the whole stage. Tonight I mainly watched Clay. I don't know if it was just where I was sitting but tonight he sang out "monkey, monkey, monkey!" with the bride. God that part is hilarious and ridiculous. He had tears in his eyes during his sad part at the end, according to those with binoculars. And I love the bows at the curtain call....he does that little "snap" that he used to do in Spamalot. In fact, there are quite a few things about this play that remind me of Spamalot. I really love seeing him in plays! I hate to leave tomorrow but real life calls.

We didn't even attempt the stage door tonight as it was pouring rain. Sounds like we didn't miss anything. I love hearing all the NJU commenting on their way out of the theatre about how great Clay is. It never gets old. Tonight it was a younger couple.......the woman said she just thought he was great, and the man said that he had changed his opinion on him, after seeing this play. He is really talented. I look forward to reading reviews the rest of the week.......I think he will get looser in the role as time goes on and perhaps we may even have a few ad libs by the end of the week. ;)

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Throwing in my thanks for bringing in the recaps and updates as well. :) I'm so jealous of all of you seeing Drowsy, so any little bit helps! It sounds like he's fantastic in this role.

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Hey @StephenAtHome ... you better watch it talking smack about my delicious NC BBQ!!! I'll sic my Plott Hound on you! #vinegarbasedlove

From what I understand, Stephen Colbert was "dissing" NC BBQ on his show last night, partially because of the political climate in both South and North Carolina. Hee.

ETA: Broadway Wold has a review of "The Drowsy Chaperone." The Clay part:

Another Raleigh native also graces the stage in this production - Clay Aiken in the surprisingly non-musical role of Man in Chair. The show's narrator, Aiken serves as the audience's adept guide through his favorite record. Although perhaps a little young to be playing an old-timer who reminisces over pre-Depression Era shows, Aiken manages to pull it off. He has the right attitude for the character, and the punch lines go over very well. His character is the bridge between old and new, and he sets the tone to create a show that is likable for people of all generations, with a little extra punch for those of us who have a particular affinity for musical theater.
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A re tweet from Clay. The symbol means kissy face!

@clayaiken: :-* RT @SoupGing: Having a moment remembering my first concert. Still in love with @clayaiken and his music #invisible

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From scorpion lady at CV

Amusing Antics by Clay Aiken, Beth Leavel, & Co. Make “The Drowsy Chaperone” a Must-See Musical

“American Idol” season-two runner-up Clay Aiken wins the hearts and minds of Triangle theatergoers with his pixilated performance as the star-struck Man in Chair in the North Carolina Theatre‘s uproarious rendition of The Drowsy Chaperone, playing now through Sunday in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in the downtown Raleigh, NC. Aiken, who made his professional debut at age 17 in NCT’s 1996 productions of 1776 and Shenandoah, is a hoot as an eccentric, effete musical-theater snob with a special affection for a forgotten 1928 Broadway musical romance entitled The Drowsy Chaperone.

Although he doesn’t have much of an opportunity to sing, Aiken demonstrates a fine flair for comedy as Man in Chair sets the musical ball rolling as he spins remastered LPs from his favorite guilty pleasure and — like magic — the original Roaring Twenties cast of The Drowsy Chaperone materializes all around him — to flirt and dance and crack wise. Meanwhile, Man in Chair scampers around and through the action, introducing the characters and the actors and actresses who play them with pep in their step, thanks to NCT artistic director Casey Hushion’s robust recreation of the original 2006 Broadway direction and choreography devised by her friend Casey Nicholaw, while Hushion served as his assistant director.Clay Aiken’s fellow Raleigh native Beth Leavel is a scream as she reprises Tony Award®-winning performance as the perpetually sozzled and always hot-to-trot title character, whose signature song — belted in a big Broadway voice — is “As We Stumble Along.” While Leavel is hamming it up hilariously — and stealing every scene in which she appears — Johnny Stellard and Paige Faure keep the waves of laughter rolling with their antics as well-heeled groom-to-be Robert Martin and his fabulous fiancée, big Broadway star Janet Van De Graaff, who would be having cold feet if they ever cooled off from her sizzling dance routines.

The caffeinated comic characterizations of the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed supporting cast and the invigorating accompaniment of the red-hot NCT orchestra, under the direction of Edward G. Robinson, help elevate this offbeat musical- within-a-musical from a “star package” to a full-scale musical extravaganza that compares favorably with the deluze touring versions of Broadway musicals that regularly visit the Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill area of North Carolina. (Indeed, the North Carolina Theatre is the Triangle’s foremost purveyor of home-grown Broadway musicals!)

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"The Office" was just really a cameo, but a cute one it was! He looked like he was having a blast being on that show.

I'm glad NBC has his number on speed dial. I like getting to see him once in a while like this.

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A loopy musical send-up with a heart: this Drowsy Chaperone's no sleeper

A loopy musical send-up with a heart: this Drowsy Chaperone's no sleeper

Through Sunday at Memorial Auditorium

Posted by Byron Woods @byronwoods on Fri, May 10, 2013 at 1:58 PM


  • She doesn't really want to show off: Paige Faure as unwilling Broadway bombshell Janet Van De Graaff, in THE DROWSY CHAPERONE



North Carolina Theatre

Through May 12

Musical theater fans can be quite rigid in their tastes, and even more so once they’ve reached a certain age. Take this tart little number, whom I encountered the other night in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. Mere moments from the opening curtain, he was already griping to me about the long-term decline of the American musical—and at a North Carolina Theatre show, no less: They’re too disappointing. Too long. And then there are those productions—you know, the ones where the cast comes out into the audience: “God. I didn’t pay $100,” he snarked, “to have the fourth wall come crashing down around my ears.”

“You know,” he groused, “there was a time when people sat in darkened theatres and thought to themselves, ‘What have George and Ira got for me tonight?’ Or ‘Can Cole Porter pull it off again?’”

“Can you imagine? Now, it’s ‘Please, Elton John, must we continue this charade?’”

(What can I say? People have always felt that they can just open up to me.)

But this little-too-lonesome character wasn’t some crank on a night pass from assisted living in North Raleigh. The man in the chair was actually our host. (His name? Man in Chair.) And as the central figure in the musical THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, he not only ushered us into his all-time favorite night at the theater, dropping the needle on a phonograph to share the soundtrack by its original cast with us. He then proceeded to lead us on a guided personal tour of it as well, repeatedly interrupting the playback with his annotations on the careers of the performers, the mechanics of the show—and almost anything else that came to mind as the record spun. As obsessive musical theater fans will sometimes do.

And, as also sometimes happens, that musical, which becomes the play within this play, takes over and remakes his rather gray little flat into the dynamic stage of an all-singing, all-dancing (and definitely all-mugging) spectacular which supposedly bowled them over on Broadway in 1928.


  • Curtis Brown
  • Man in Chair, with Musical: Clay Aiken, in THE DROWSY CHAPERONE

No, they sure don’t make ‘em like that anymore—mainly because, in this case, they never made it to begin with: As with the Little Green Pig’s current production, Chaperone lovingly recreates a hallmark New York production that actually never existed in the first place.

But with that niggling little drawback conceded, the musical which comes back to life, before his eyes and ours, spirits us off into an escapist musical comedy about high society in the decadent ‘20s.

Or, at least, it does until the land line in his apartment rings and an answering machine turns on to take the call. Or the record starts skipping, or other examples of what our host calls “the dreary horrors of the real world” intervene.

At first it seems our host’s beloved musical has all of the iridescence—and, unfortunately, the resilience—of a soap bubble. Still, after each catastrophe, the Man (a surprising Clay Aiken) and the interrupted production recollects themselves. Then they carry on.

That musical embedded within this show is a theatrical souffle; a pastiche that faithfully honors, lampoons—and occasionally, critiques—the on- and off-stage conventions of the old-school musical comedy. “Fancy Dress,” the opening number, transparently sets up the situation—while devoting a mere four bars apiece to introduce all of the main and minor characters. (Now, that’s compositional economy.)

In its wisp of a plot, the lovely, talented—and ruthlessly unassuming—Broadway bombshell Janet Van De Graaff (Paige Faure) has just turned her back on showbiz to marry the too-perfect-to-live Robert Martin (Johnny Stellard), handsome oil heir and man about town. This development not only displeases Janet’s boss, Broadway impresario Feldzieg (hint: invert the syllables)—it angers the representatives of Feldzieg’s underworld backer, two tough-guy enforcers disguised as dessert makers (Jeremy Morse and Eric Mann).

Can Feldzieg stop the impending wedding on the estate of the dotty Mrs. Tottendale (Linda Griffin)? Can Janet’s chaperone keep her out of the clutches of Aldolpho (David Josefsberg), the notorious lothario Feldzieg’s hired to accomplish this?


  • Curtis Brown
  • Upstaging, again? Diva Beatrice Stockwell (Beth Leavel) pulls focus from Janet (Paige Faure) and Man in Chair (Clay Aiken) in THE DROWSY CHAPERONE

And, most importantly, can aging diva-cum-battleaxe Beatrice Stockwell (Beth Leavel) upstage or steal yet another scene as the chaperone, in an all but open warfare with the show within the show’s female lead and ingenue?

These are the stakes in a loopy assortment of dance and tap routines (lovingly choreographed by director Casey Hushion), variety show numbers, takes (in both the spit and double varieties)—and unforgivable puns. The last include the following exchange, when the pastry chefs goons threaten Feldzieg with “a recipe for disaster” if the impending nuptuals go through: “Now, one cannoli hope we have made ourselves perfectly éclair.” In another moment, Kitty (Dana Harshaw), the wide-eyed, empty-headed showgirl begging for a part in Feldzeig's next big show boasts about her recent ballet lessons: "I'm getting pretty good, too. Last week I auditioned for Swanee Lake."

(Don’t move. The pain should subside, momentarily.)

The silliness peaks in showstoppers including “Show Off,” in which Janet learns how hard it is to get an adoring world to just stop worshipping her, damn it: “I don’t wanna change keys no more | I don’t wanna strip tease no more | I don’t wanna say cheese no more,” she begs, amid impromptu displays of apparently irrepressible talent.

That’s matched shortly after by Beatrice’s trademark rousing anthem, “As We Stumble Along.” Leavel (who originated the role on Broadway) sells the song’s distended metaphor with a collection of shameless showbiz moves that literally puts her nemesis in eclipse.

Similarly overripe analogies in Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison's libretto provide comic dividends in the romantic plea “You’re An Accident Waiting to Happen (So Hurry and Happen to Me)” and a “Bride’s Lament,” following the inevitable lover’s spat. Only the seducer’s anthem, “I Am Adolpho,” briefly overstays its welcome.


  • Curtis Brown
  • Just dropped in: Trix the aviatrix (Yolanda Rabun) crashes the wedding party in THE DROWSY CHAPERONE

But the light merriment—and outright hilarity at points—of the show within the show is curiously interrupted by something else: the Man in Chair’s own critical assessment of the work and the time in which it appeared.

He calls a mid-show excursion into a number seemingly lifted from a retread of The King and I “a degrading piece of Chinoiserie... a slap in the face of 4000 years of Chinese history.” (North Carolina Theatre has produced that show three times, most recently in 2004). And it stings, as it should, when Robert gaily refers to “Cold Feets,” an early tap number, as “a song an old Negro taught me.” Though Aiken’s Man tells us thatChaperone’s fictional creators were "quite progressive" in casting a female African-American dancer as a black aviatrix (in the vein of Josephine Brooks), playwrights Bob Martin and Don McKellar didn’t let us forget the racial dynamics in 1920s America among all the joking around.

After Adopho’s send-up of the Latin lover, the Man muses, “Mature contemporary audiences are too sophisticated to enjoy broad racial stereotypes on the stage. So we’ve banished them to Disney. Let the children sort it out.”


This production marks Clay Aiken’s return to the site of some of his earliest stage work, well before the days ofAmerican Idol and his subsequent leap to pop stardom. After a bit of digging, I found that I saw—and reviewed, for the News & Observer—the 1996 N.C. Theatre production of 1776 (in which he appeared in the modest supporting roles of A Painter and A Leather Apron), and the company’s 1997 iteration of Annie (in which he made the chorus).


  • Curtis Brown
  • Splitsville: Janet (Paige Faure) stoically gives the fans an encore, in THE DROWSY CHAPERONE

Since neither of those reviews made any mention of the budding thespian and future pop star, I kind of need to make sure that doesn’t happen this time out.

Aiken surprised me, slowly turning a role that so easily qualifies as a stereotype itself—a somewhat catty musical theater fiend, of ambiguous sexual orientation—into a character whose wit, insight and increasing poignancy ultimately moved me. Though his makeup needed further tweaks to reflect the true age of the Man in Chair, I found I cared a lot more about Aiken's character, under Hushion’s direction, than the lead who played to the same house in the professional touring version in 2008.

In these hands, we spend some time in a small room with a man who is—and, suddenly, isn’t—quite alone. Bette Davis was right when she once observed that old age is not for sissies. In this production, a daffy musical comedy—and a vivid world that reconstitutes whenever a phonograph record plays—provides an aging man with hidden, formidable resources. Hushion and Aiken find the heart in The Drowsy Chaperone. I’m pleased to report that its pulse is quite strong.

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New tweets! :)

Clay Aiken@clayaiken

Quite possibly the greatest Craigslist ad ever!!! Read it all!


This car sounds EXACTLY like mine!!! Pretty much dead, sitting in the driveway, tons of problems, only worth about $500 and would have to be towed to move it. I was dying with laughter reading it cause it was so on. :hysterical: The only difference is mine is a Ford Taurus!

NC Theatre@nctheatre

10 May

FOUR STARS for DROWSY CHAPERONE and @Clayaiken & cast from @indyweek & only 5 more chances to see it this weekend! http://bit.ly/ClayNCT

Retweeted by Clay Aiken

Haven't watched The Office..... Mom and I have the whole season in the DVR to see first before we get to the Clay episode. Doesn't sound like there's too much to spoil though! I'm enjoying the screencaps in the meantime. :)

Our weekend is going well. Today Mom got part 1 of her Mother's Day gift: a Kindle Fire! I got her a Best Buy gift card back at Christmas to cover most of the cost but she's put it off, so it's kinda 2 in 1. It was on sale this week though which is why I said we should go. We got even more money off it when we bought everything to go with it, "bundling" so that was cool! She has to wait 24 hours to use it because we put a special type of screen protector on that takes at least 24 hours to install properly (it's the Invisible Shield; has anyone gotten one of these?). Tomorrow she gets the other half. :)

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That Craigslist ad is HYSTERICAL! I love people who put a sense of humor into ads such as these.

shorty, I swear by Invisible Shield screen protectors. They may be more expensive, but they are so worth it. I've used them for my iPad and my Android phone with no problems at all.

An early "Happy Mother's Day" to all celebrating. I hope the cats get me something...

Today was a gorgeous day, so hubby and I got a lot of work done in the garden/yard. I now have four tomato plants in the ground, and my husband is working on landscaping around our mailbox. Dinner time now!

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EXCELLENT recap from ncwannabe at CV:

There's been so many recaps that one more is probably just overkill, but if anyone is interested, here's just my thoughts about the show and a few favorite things:

Just WOW! Clay is incredible in this performance. I knew he'd be great, but he is beyond great. He is sublime. So spot on - his delivery, his expressions, his body language, his hands - everything. His timing is perfect. He knows how to milk a moment, and when to move on. He knows how to get a laugh, and how to bring you to tears. He is over the top when called for, and subtle to the extreme when it's needed.

Some of my favorite moments - and that way maybe you can then envision them in your head when listening to the cell cert tonight - are during the Bride's Lament. He tells us to "ignore the lyrics" cause they're not the best. Hee - understatement there. He sings along a few times with her - a rousing "Monkey, Monkey, Monkey" as he's sipping his brandy. Then, later he echos the word "pedestal" when he still has a mouthful. It's priceless. He ends up sitting on a bench with her and when he begins to "prompt" her as she begins to reclaim her conviction she asks if she needs anyone and says "No, No, No" very emphatically while turning her head side to side. Well, MIC (man in chair) turns his head side to side in perfect unison with her and also says the triple "no." It's so perfectly timed! Also, the ensemble, dressed as monkeys, is out dancing around and clashing cymbals here and there. He runs around with them in a circle, and then runs to the stairs where he enthusiastically thrashes his arm around as if clashing an imaginary cymbal of his own.

Also, as in that little clip of him dancing on the stairs, he is so good at that. He occasionally throws one crooked, out-facing leg out in front of him in his awkward, endearing way. He mimics the moves of the characters on stage but in his older man, not too coordinated way. Later, when he's sitting in his chair, he is pointing both fingers into the air and pumping his arms alternately up and down, pointing skyward.

During the Accident Waiting to Happen song, when the groom is on roller skates, MIC is sipping on a juice box. He sits on his feet next to a small fountain and sips away looking totally like a little kid, his face all aglow watching the action in eager anticipation, totally captivated by the scene playing out in front of him.

When the men are tap dancing in Cold Feet, he has moved from his chair over to the bed. He is sitting there, clutching a pillow to his chest, while his hands and fingers move along to the tap beat. When he first sits on the bed, he's just sitting on the edge. At that point, he's moving his feet just the tiniest bit mimicking the dancer. It's later when he crawls up completely to the head of the bed and clutches the pillow.

When he first wants to put the record on the player, he gets his little cleaner out and is lovingly dusting off the record. He takes a great amount of care in doing this, then lifts it up to see if it looks okay and blows on it to clear away any remaining dust.

When he comes running back in for "act 2" when the Oriental song is playing, he comes running around the corner with his arms outstretched and his hands making the "no, no, no" wagging back and forth symbol as he makes a dash for the phonograph and apologizes to us, telling us it's the wrong record.

When he is forlorn after telling us about his divorce and his woes, he is so touching. He sits in the chair with his head turned away and everything about his body and expression screams that he is lost in thought and awash in his memories and his lonliness and his sadness. It takes the airplane landing and Trix coming to sing for us to break him out of his reverie. He soon is caught up again in the rousing wedding song and the action, smiling and mouthing the words and enraptured again in the happiness of the occasion. Until the power goes off. And the guy comes to fix the breaker. And the spell is ruined. Everything is awful. When he says "I'll just start it all over again" and he heads toward the record player with purpose, only to slow down and stop again and realize he can't really do that, and it hits that it really means that he can't start his life all over again and it is what it is, and he slowly sinks into his chair and grabs the record cover and places it flat in his lap. He begins to speak so softly, so emotionally, so tenderly, so sadly, as he tells us that he just wanted to escape the grim reality of life and his voice breaks and cracks as he tries not to cry. As he is speaking, he is moving his hands back and forth over the record sleeve, as one would be doing when they are upset, just absently rubbing it back and forth, as in a nervous gesture. It is so real - so something I do when I'm upset and that really hit me as an awesome bit of acting on his part. He starts to haltingly sing "As We Stumble Along," holding back sobs, looking down and as a watcher, your heart is breaking for this man. But suddenly the groom begins to move (the characters had been frozen) and he looks over toward the MIC, and the one character begins to play a ukelele as MIC is singing, and he looks up, startled a bit, and they're all beginning to move and he is looking all around now and starting to realize they're all real and his voice begins to get stronger and they're coming to life all around him and he can really touch them now. At one point he literally launches himself into the groom's arms, and then the Drowsy Chaperone comes to him and holds out her hands and he tentatively reaches out and takes them, and she leads him over to the airplane and has him hop on. She runs back over to the record player, grabs his DC record and quickly runs back and hands it to him as the airplane with him sitting on it starts to rise. He takes it and hugs it lovingly to his chest as he waves and yells "goodbye everyone!" and off he goes, happy again, into the sky as the curtain closes.

They come out for bows, and of course, he is last. He takes his bow and turns to Beth, and brings her up there with him. Then they do something unique. He turns his back to the audience as they are slowly walk back off stage, they all pass by him, and he smiles at them and brings his hands into his chest to show how touched he is and when the last one leaves, he shuffles back over to his chair, again puts the DC sleeve to his chest, and stares off to the side as the curtain goes down for the final time. Very impactful.

That's all for now!!! I Loved every moment of it. The man is uber-talented. UBER. TALENTED.

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Retweet from stephenghill:

2 months ago, Mom let us know that she would be 'unavailable' for Mother's Day. @clayaiken concert in NC. Living her life. #LoveHer4It

Clay also replied:

@StephenGHill I'm taking her to dinner tomorrow night too! ;-)

I think I read at CV that Mr. Hill is president of special programming at BET. His mom is a huge fan (and I'm guessing one of the winner of the Gala dinner from last year?).

Mr. Hill also tweeted this:

Merry Mother's Day to the woman from whom I get drive, passion and love for music! With her boo. pic.twitter.com/JNFgeftolx


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More Clay tweets, from after last night's Celebrity Apprentice:

Hey y'all @pennjillette is #CelebApprenticeMVP Retweet this like crazy. I'm rooting for Penn for the win. His charity @OppVillageLV is great

Retweet from Penn:

West coast!! Here we go. Please watch and retweet me for your #CelebApprenticeMVP. Thank you!!! pic.twitter.com/uCcT4rAbyh

Interesting that he seems to be rooting for Penn for the win.

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