From 2014 to 2017, Mariah Carey owned the Christmas live performance circuit in New York together with her annual vacation residency on the Beacon Theatre. However with the diva taking her yuletide act to Europe this season, there usually are not one, however two singers moving into her crimson Louboutins: 2003 “American Idol” champ Ruben Studdard and his runner-up Clay Aiken.
The 2 crooners shall be decking the halls of Broadway’s Imperial Theatre by Dec. 30, with “Ruben & Clay’s First Annual Christmas Carol Household Enjoyable Pageant Spectacular Reunion Present.” (Sure, that’s a mouthful of fruitcake.)
“If we had a fifth of the people who come to Mariah, we’d be pleased,” says Aiken, including that Carey will nonetheless be there in spirit: “We knew we’d need to sing Mariah’s ‘All I Need for Christmas Is You’ within the present, however to have us sing that to one another was gonna be somewhat awkward, so we introduced the entire solid [including five supporting players] in on it.”
Fifteen years after they battled in an epic finale that, with greater than 38 million viewers, was the most-watched episode in “Idol” historical past, Studdard and Aiken are again collectively once more for some Christmas merriment that features musical numbers, skits and private vacation reflections. Though they’re described as “two sworn adversaries” within the opening of the present, the pair are something however.
In actual fact, this isn’t the primary time they’ve shared the stage since their “Idol” showdown. Studdard and Aiken, each now 40, teamed for his or her “Timeless” tour of basic songs in 2010. And so they got here up with the concept for his or her Christmas present after Aiken went to see Studdard’s tour earlier this yr in assist of “Ruben Sings Luther,” his album of Luther Vandross covers.
“It’s virtually like your high-school classmates or high-school reunion. I give it some thought in the identical method,” says Studdard, the “Velvet Teddy Bear” who nonetheless lives in his hometown of Birmingham, Ala. — with the 205 space code that he proudly promoted on “Idol.” “I’ve actually had an exquisite time working with my pal once more.”
Provides the New York-based Aiken: “Folks nonetheless ask us on a regular basis, ‘Are you guys nonetheless mates?’ And it’s unusual to us that anybody would assume that we aren’t. However after we went again for that finale [of ‘American Idol’ on Fox in 2015], we found that rivals from subsequent seasons didn’t and don’t keep in contact with one another. We’ve at all times stayed linked.”
Nonetheless, their paths have gone other ways since “American Idol”: Studdard, divorced with no kids, went from changing into a Grammy-nominated R&B artist to competing on “The Greatest Loser” in 2013. In the meantime, Aiken got here out in 2008, completed second on “The Celeb Apprentice” in 2012 and ran for the Home of Representatives in 2014 (profitable a Democratic major in North Carolina however dropping the overall election).
Might Aiken have imagined again then that “Apprentice” host Donald Trump would go on to turn out to be president? “I don’t suppose any folks imagined it,” says Aiken. “I don’t really feel like I used to be working with the identical particular person that’s the president proper now. I really feel like they’re two very, very totally different folks.”
In the one politically minded second of Ruben and Clay’s Christmas present, the phrases to “Child, It’s Chilly Out Exterior” have been revamped in response to current controversy in regards to the unique lyrics suggesting sexual misconduct.
“It’s an excellent music,” says Studdard, who performs it with solid member Farah Alvin, “and getting the chance to alter the lyrics and produce it extra updated . . . is de facto enjoyable.”
Provides Aiken: “Doing it as written again within the ’40s may need [been problematic]. Christmas shouldn’t be a time to offend anybody in any respect.”