Clay Aiken Deftly Acts Supremely Silly - AP Review

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http://movies.msn.com/news/article.aspx?news=302088


Clay Aiken Deftly Acts Supremely Silly

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.

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Edited to add link to article with author's byline:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2008/02/22/entertainment/e114231S74.DTL
Updated On: 2/22/08 at 04:02 PM
Cartwheel
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Now we're talking! Nice review.
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mezzina
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I've heard a lot of positive buzz about Hannah Waddingham and Clay Aiken and the rest of the cast in that show, so now after reading this fantastic review I will have to get some tickets for hubby and myself.
Thank you for posting that. Who is the author of that article?
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Bravo, now we have a review that is from a respected drama critic and low and behold, I agree with him.
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Michael Kuchwara, AP Drama Critic.
snl89
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Very nice review that I happen to agree with! yay re: Clay Aiken Deftly Acts Supremely Silly - AP Review
I don't need a life that's normal. That's way too far away. But something next to normal would be okay. Something next to normal is what I'd like to try. Close enough to normal to get by.
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Wow! That's a huge compliment coming from a highly respected journalist like Michael Kuchwara.
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insertclevernamehere
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Here we go again...
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention...I'm the good cop, he's the bad cop.
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Nice review. Glad to see the reviewer acknowledging all the other cast members. Spamalot is fun and entertaining. I was never bored through the entire show.
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Most of the reviews or reports of Clay's performance, those from non-fans I mean, have been on the positive side. I think he's doing well, for someone who'd never done Broadway before (and no professional theater to speak of), and it's probably surprised people who didn't know he had comedic sensibilities. I've always thought that Clay belonged on Broadway. I'd like to see him do more in the future and see what he can do with it. I'm not sure how well he could act in a dramatic role, but I think musical theater probably suits him. He's very theatrical in the way he sings and he does have natural comic timing etc.

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He did pretty well on "Scrubs". I think he could do a serious role.
dominique
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Isn't Scrubs a comedy? And he played a comedic character if I remember right. I don't think we've seen him do drama yet.
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Wow! That's so great for her. She must be thrilled!
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Kudos to the whole Spamalot cast! I'm happy to see Clay get recognized, for his talent and hard work. I SO wish I could see him in this show.
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"Wow! That's so great for her. She must be thrilled!"

Yes, Hannah deserves every bit of the praise she is getting. She is great.
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Looking forward to seeing this myself....for Clay and Hannah and Tom and Christopher and David...the whole cast seems fantastic. Great ensemble cast!
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I saw the show a couple of weeks ago, but unfortunately missed Hannah as she was out sick. I thought Clay did a surprisingly good job -- given it was his debut -- and I loved Christopher, Tom, David and Rick, too. A great, funny ensemble, and Clay fit right in with them, I thought. I'll have to go back and see Hannah -- I hear she's fantastic.
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For those who have seen both Hannah and Sara, how do they compare? As you can tell by my name I'm a big Sara fan and have avoided going to see Spamalot again since she left, but I'm interested in seeing it with Clay in as I've heard good things about him in it, and it seems like Hannah does a very good job.
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That is a good review. One more time, I'm adding my own review. These threads just disappear as fast as they go up. I agree with the reviewer that Clay is part of the ensemble and fits well with the other actors. He didn't look like a new kid on the block, they all looked like they've worked together for a long time and they play off each other well. Hannah also transitioned beautifully from London to here.

I was so happy that Chris Seiber was back in the role of Galahad. Awesome actor as are Tom Deckman, Rick Holmes and David Hibbard, Jonathan Hadary and Brad Oscar. I have a soft spot for all involved with Spamalot, it is silly and fun and has such intricate details and witticisms.
You see, obsessions are very personal things, they come from deep inside us, where we are open and vulnerable, which is why I consider them sacred, not to be belittled....PalJoey
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SaraRFan, I have only seen Sara's performance on the internet, but I thought she did a great job. However, if I have to choose, I'd choose Hannah's performance to see again. I think she's prettier, and sings a little better. Just a personal preference - I love Sara's "Callie" character on Grey's, and as I said, I think she did a good job as LOTL as well.
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I watched the OBC video online as well, and I thought Sara and Christian Borle were really great in their roles until I saw this cast. I think Hannah has a more beautiful voice and is physically more right for LOTL and Tom Deckham is so adorable as Herbert that I've become a real fan. The only one I liked better from the OBC is Tim Curry. Jonathan Hadary's King Arthur is good but Tim's was better.

This was an excellent review. May they all get more accolades in future reviews. They all deserve it.
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I agree with that assessment, Mikers. Tom Deckman was so adorable I just wanted to take him home with me. The rest of the cast was fantastic, too. I liked Jonathan Hadary but he just seemed really short to be a king - Clay and Christopher towered over him.
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Another great review again with the reviewer giving credit to the entire cast of Spamalot. Looks like Mike Nichols was right.


http://www.newsday.com/services/newspaper/printedition/monday/partii/ny-etaik5590463feb25,0,2714496.story

Review: Clay Aiken fits as Sir Robin in 'Spamalot
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I like this review - except for the fact that she didn't even mention the impressive Mr. Deckman (and didn't know a Menorah from a candelabra).
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"Bravo, now we have a review that is from a respected drama critic and low and behold, I agree with him. "


Are you just going to ignore the Entertainment Weekly review, just because it wasn't a rave?

http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20007164_20171835_20179277,00.html

“Stage Review
Monty Python's Spamalot (2005)

(caption with pic: CLAY AIKEN IN SPAMALOT The American Idol runner-up isn't completely winning as the not-so-brave Sir Robin
Joan Marcus)

By Clark Collis
Clark Collis is a senior writer for EW

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+ “
"TheatreDiva90016 - another good reason to frequent these boards less."<<>> “I hesitate to give this line of discussion the validation it so desperately craves by perpetuating it, but the light from logic is getting further and further away with your every successive post.” <<>> -whatever2