Alan Cumming told ‘Hello’ magazine his new show was ‘me with a band singing some songs I like, and telling stories about what’s happened to me in the ten years since I moved to America’. +++
That this is truthfully the middle and both ends of it disguises the fact that it’s a beguiling evening in company of an undeniably charming performer. +++ Although the youthful band members seem recruited from music schools and possibly tube stations expressly for this show, they blaze a trail from choky, smoky jazz to bumping grinding Dolly Parton with panache. +++
Cumming’s musical choices roam the genres from Cole Porter to Cindy Lauper, but also defeat his ability to nail a personal performance style. He occasionally seems tentative in the torch songs but in rocker mode his vocals and his free left hand threaten to punch a hole in the fourth wall. +++
The confessional anecdotes interspersed with the songs are clearly from the heart but may be familiar to fans of this well-publicised actor, and the name-dropping varies from the deceased (Walter Cronkite, Ann Miller) to the less-than-topically famous, although through a thin story about crashing for the afternoon in the apartment of John Cameron Mitchell he leads in to a blinding medley from Mitchell’s ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’. +++
When someone is as massively and variously talented in writing, music, acting, film-making and OBE-deserving gay activism as Cumming, and at 44 appears as gamine and youthful as a baby-faced Marc Almond (whose hairstyle and fondness for mascara he appears to have appropriated wholesale) then chirrups gaily for two hours about his transatlantic dual citizenship, public fame and happy marriage, you’re not sure whether you want to embrace him or kill him. +++
Let’s go with embrace for now. +++
Since writing this review for Londonist.com, I reflected that Cumming sings better in the 'show tune' elements (although he murders Mein Herr with a homicidal ferocity the Kristallnacht stormtroopers would envy) and gets teary-eyed at the rather underweight torch songs he and his cohort/writer Lance Boring have selected. +++
Like so many pulled-together short-run specials in the West End, the show's flabby and needs a director who's not afraid to slap him around a bit - step forward T Nunn and J Kelly - plus the lighting and sound persons should be fired, preferably before curtain tonight. +++ read more of my stuff on www.londonist.com or www.blowstar.blogspot.com - JohnnyFox
04 Sep 09
Jamie Tate certainly knows what he is talking about. Alan Cumming is indeed a world renowned and highly accomplished performer and writer in so many different fields - film, theatre, TV, talking books - with lead roles on stage aplenty to his credit including, on this side of the Atlantic alone, those in "Hamlet", "Cabaret", "The Bacchae" and "Bent" which was one of the most stunning performances and productions I have seen in a very busy 50 years or so of theatregoing. As Terri Paddock says in the review above, Alan's show at the Vaudeville is simply unmissable. He is a man of extraordinary talent, warmth, style, wit, charm, charisma, wisdom and passion - utterly enchanting and beguiling and, boy, can he sing !! Loved the show so much that I am making two return trips at the weekend as well as tonight's late night showcase of his MD Lance Horne's songs. This is one of the best evenings I have had in the theatre for a long time - uplifting, heartwarming, inspiring and so very satisfying. Make no mistake - he is one of the greats. - Jason D.
03 Sep 09
He's a charming man but he needs a director and an editor. Some of the songs were ill chosen. Most of the arrangements were dull or unfortunate and overall there wasn't an overall point of view. - marc abbott
03 Sep 09
Dear rds, your comments on the household name (star) which is Alan Cumming are just mad, where have you been??
"struggle ever since finding something he could get his teeth into" do you know what goes on in New York? home of a hell of a lot of great theatre and esp. musical theatre??
Alan has been playing lead roles to die for and indeed was at the Edinburgh Inter' Festival only a few years back in a great Greek play which came to Hammersmith.
Also the lead in The Threepenny Opera in NY etc etc.
He is confirmed to lead the Broadway Company next year in 'Spiderman' Julie T - as in Lion King - Directing and the music of U2.
He is a world known film star now who thankfully still enjoys the challenge of live theatre. - jamie tate
03 Sep 09
The engaging Alan Cumming has put together a medley of songs across the spectrum of show-biz from Cole Porter to Victoria Wood and in most respects it works with his informal and amusing chatter in between. His resumé credits him with so much that the words smart arse come to mind. But after a short time in his presence one can see there is much to be smart about. But whether he will be able to sustain this aspect of his talent is questionable. He can sing, but it's not a great voice and after the anecdotes have been aired a few times I suspect this will begin to notice. I remember when I first saw the man in TV's The High Life which, unbelievably, didn't run for too long even though in its day it was the funniest thing on TV along with Rab C Nesbitt - all Scottish productions too. Unfortunately I missed Cabaret which catapulted him to stardom. I suspect it has been a struggle for him ever since finding something he could get his teeth into. He may well be one of those unfortunate actors who end up becoming a celebrity, never quite finding the elusive next great role. He'll be Alan Cumming - which you know ain't such a bad thing! Bonne chance! - rds
Whatsonstage.com - Discount London theatre tickets, theatre news and reviews, Theatre videos, Theatre discussion, National Theatre Listings. Covering London's West End, all of Theatreland and all UK theatre. The best
for London Theatre Ticket Discounts.