Film, stage, and television actor, Scottish born-and-bred, Alan Cumming, claimed title as Entertainer Extraordinaire in a bold, smart performance to an enthusiastic, sold-out house at the Mahaiwe in Great Barrington Sunday night . Cumming calls his show “Legal Immigrant", both in celebration of his own, relatively new US citizenship and emotional support of immigrants to the US, but it was so much more. The 90-minute show was packed with about a dozen and half songs, thematically grouped in five sets with some rollicking, comedy routines and brash, political commentary in between. Defiantly, proudly anti-Trump, Cumming introduced his excellent four member band by all their ethnic or national origins, reminding us we are a country of immigrants.
Cumming peppers his act with delicious one-liners (stripping off his white suit jacket after the opening set to reveal a black lace sleeveless top , he quips “I do believe in the right to bear arms"), whimsical gay camp (selecting hunky lifeguards for his 50th birthday party at Disneyworld’s water park), celebrity imitations (an okay Liza Minnelli but a spot-on Sean Connery), and an outrageous rift on “scrotal aging”, which sets the stage for some serious songs about growing old, things past, and love had and love lost.
Cumming’s sensitivity is agenderous. When’s the last time we’ve heard Sondheim’s torch song from FOLLIES “Losing My Mind” sung by a guy? He covers divas old and new, from Peggy Lee (his bold, muscular version of “Is That All There Is” one of the show’s best), Marlene Dietrich (yes, her signature “Falling in Love Again”) and Edith Piaf to Adele and P!nk. He reminisces candidly about a lonely, misfit childhood in rural Scotland and segues into bittersweet reconciliation with “Caledonia”. Besides Sondheim, Cumming borrows from Broadway and film with a unique mix of Lin Manuel Miranda and Alan Menken (one of the kids’ favorites from “The Little Mermaid”).
He concludes with a lovely original song about the power of now written for him by pianist and musical director Lance Horne. Cumming left the audience upbeat with an encore of “Tomorrow” from ANNIE. Cumming transcends the standard's usual treacle, rendering it an adult realists's anthem of hope - things will get better. Ya gotta believe in somethin'.
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