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Alan Cumming Will Sing Sappy Songs at DPAC on Thursday, April 27

Alan Cumming at Carnegie Hall, photo by Tré.

Did you ever ask a kid what they wanted to be when they grew up? You probably got one or two answers.

A young Alan Cumming must have had about a dozen.

You likely know him from one of two places: CBS’s The Good Wife or the 1998 Broadway revival of the musical sensation Cabaret.

The debonair 52-year-old Scotsman has an eclectic twenty-five year film resume, including cult comedies (Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion and the made-for-TV musical Reefer Madness), complex tragedies (Julie Taymor’s Titus and Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut) and inexplicable rubbish (Spice World and the Spy Kids series).

Amid these gigs, Cumming fine-tuned his craft on stage via the weighty words of Hamlet, Design for Living, The Threepenny Opera, The Seagull, Bent, The Bacchae, and a mutinous, critically acclaimed production of Macbeth in which he played every role. Yes, even Lady M herself.

In 1993, with only a handful of projects under his belt, there was a seismic shift: up-and-coming stage director Sam Mendes called upon Cumming to star as the Emcee in a London revival of Cabaret. Joel Grey originated the role of the depraved and impish Master of Ceremonies in both the 1966 production and 1972 film adaptation. Cumming re-imagined the Emcee as an erotic and brutal ringleader and brought him to New York for revivals in 1998 and 2014. That 1998 production garnered the most attention, placing on his mantle a Tony® , an Outer Critics Circle Award®, a Drama Desk Award®, and a Theatre World Award®.

Alan Cumming at Carnegie Hall, photo by Tré.

Cumming lunged into the American mainstream in 2010, landing a recurring role on The Good Wife after a guest appearance in its first season. He would play the role until the show’s 2016 cancellation, earning him nominations for three Emmys®, two Screen Actors Guild Awards®, and a Golden Globe® as outspoken campaign manager Eli Gold.

But Alan Cumming is more than an artist. He and his husband of five years, graphic artist Grant Shaffer are leaders in LGBTQIA activism, winning awards for work with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and Human Rights Campaign (HRC) in the United States, while supporting those back home with the Equality Network of Scotland. Cumming also supports several AIDS charities including the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AMFAR) and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. He was appointed an OBE in the 2009 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to film, theatre and the arts, and activism for LGBT rights.

Never one to rest on his laurels, Cumming has stepped into the worlds of fragrance design, talk show hosting, audiobook narration, photography, concert performance, and the release of two full-length albums: 2009’s I Bought a Blue Car Today and 2016’s Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs: Live at the Cafe Carlyle.

“Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs: Live at the Cafe Carlyle” (CD; 2016)

That 2016 album is a live recording of the intimate cabaret act Cumming will bring to the Durham Performing Arts Center on Thursday, April 27, performing alongside long-time collaborator and pianist Lance Horne,  accomplished cellist Eleanor Norton, and drummer Chris Jego. A Saturday, April 29 gig at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. follows, before he brings Sappy Songs back to North Carolina for a Sunday, April 30 show at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte.

This intimate lounge act began in Manhattan as a casual Broadway after-party for special invited guests and has grown into a full-fledged production that has toured through Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, including a sold-out night at New York’s Carnegie Hall, where he was joined by Glee’s Darren Criss and stage goddess Chita Rivera.

In Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs, he does just that, while throwing in humorous and heartfelt anecdotes amid anticipated renditions of pieces by Stephen Sondheim, Noël Coward, and Kurt Weill. The always unpredictable artiste also flips through the repertoires of Annie Lennox, Billy Joel, and Miley Cyrus. The combination of extraordinary vocal talent, dynamic personality, and an eclectic menagerie of songs demands that we expect the unexpected–something this Emcee’s fans are undeniably used to.

Alan Cumming at Carnegie Hall, photo by Tré.

SECOND OPINION: April 21 Raleigh, NC News & Observer preview by Ed Condran: http://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/arts-culture/article145428719.html

The Durham Performing Arts Center presents ALAN CUMMING SINGS SAPPY SONGS, at 7:30 p.m. April 27 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.

TICKETS: Tickets start at $35, plus taxes and fees. Click here for DPAC Special Offers.

BOX OFFICE:

DPAC Box Office: 919-680-ARTS (2787), tickets@dpacnc.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events-tickets/where-to-buy.

Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or https://www1.ticketmaster.com/alan-cumming-sings-sappy-songs-durham-north-carolina-04-27-2017/event/0E0050FCD0717EDC

GROUP RATES (12+ tickets): 919/281-0587, Groups@DPACnc.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events-tickets/group-services.

SHOW: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/alan-cumming-sings-sappy-songs

and https://www.facebook.com/events/1154702901288282/

CONCERT OVERVIEW: http://www.alancumming.com/sappy-songs-alan-in-concert/

ARTIST: http://www.alancumming.com/

PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.dpacnc.com/, https://www.facebook.com/DPACNC, https://twitter.com/DPAC, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durham_Performing_Arts_Center.

DIRECTIONS: http://www.dpacnc.com/plan-your-visit/directions.

PARKING: http://www.dpacnc.com/plan-your-visit/parking.

OTHER LINKS:

Alan Cumming’s Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Alan-Cumming/e/B001H9R9D4

Alan Cumming (actor): http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001086/ (Internet Movie Database); https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Cumming (Wikipedia); https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/alan-cumming-36849 (Internet Broadway Database)

Alan Cumming on social media: @alancumming (Twitter); alancummingsnaps (Instagram); https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alan-Cumming/109506412402481 (Facebook).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Dustin K. Britt, a Triangle native, is a local actor and member of the board of directors of Arts Access, Inc., which makes the arts accessible to people with disabilities. He holds an M.A.Ed. degree in Special Education from East Carolina University. Click here to read his reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment. You can also find him on Facebook as Dustin K. Britt, on Twitter @dkbritt85, and via his movie blog Hold the Popcorn.

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Categorised in: A&E Theatre Reviews, Lead Story, Reviews