Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs

Music, Cabaret and standards
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Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs
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A raucous late-night cabaret from superstar Cummings.

Returning to the EIF to a hero’s welcome, Scots superstar Alan Cumming is frank about the contents of this cabaret show: ‘it’s going to be what it says on the poster, only minus the exclamation mark.’

That’s not entirely true: Alan Cumming also tells fabulous anecdotes, perhaps in fact slightly more than he sings sappy songs. But I’m fairly sure that nobody in this particular audience has a problem with him launching into a very long, very funny story about Liza Minnelli and other gems from his Broadway-centric world. There is also some searingly soul-baring and emotional stuff, including the shocking story of his grandfather, who died playing Russian Roulette after being left traumatised by the Second World War.

‘Sappy Songs’ grew out of the afterparties Cumming hosted in his dressing room - aka Club Cumming, recreated on stage here – during his year-long stint as the Emcee in ‘Cabaret’, and as the title suggests, many of them erge on the naff. There’s Keane, there’s Miley Cyrus, there’s a medley of modern pop songs (Gaga, Katy Perry, Adele) that seems to exist to prove that they all sound the same. But Cumming and his three piece band perform them beautifully and respectfully, the piano-cello-drums palette and Cummings’ committed performance and unmoderated accent stripping out some of the songs’ blaring gaucheness. And despite a pisstake Sondheim medley, it’s far from the arch evening it might have been, with generous, forceful takes on Hue and Cry’s ‘Mother Glasgow’ and Rufus Wainwright’s ‘Dinner At Eight’.

He breezily sends up the business of encores, only wandering off stage momentarily to grab a martini rather than making us work to get him back. The whole show is an excercise in giving us exactly what we want: Alan Cumming being Alan Cumming, brilliantly.

By: Andrzej Lukowski

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