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« Theatre Review: "Nunsense" | Main | Reports of Toronto eartquake felt in Rochester, the Hamptons, NYC »

Cabaret Review: "Alan Cumming"

by Jonathan Warman

A room like Feinstein’s at the Regency tests the mettle of a singer; some of the most powerful singers of our time – Christine Ebersole, Betty Buckley, Ann Hampton Callaway, Marilyn Maye and Feinstein himself – have done major shows here, and it's also where the legendary Rosemary Clooney did her last New York shows, as did Kitty Carlisle Hart. Taking that stage must be a little intimidating.

If Alan Cumming is intimidated, he sure doesn't show it. He is easily one of the most charismatic performers to take that stage, his take on songs-by composers ranging from Sondheim to Steven Traskp-so very original and fresh, his singing as bold, big and beautiful as can be.

The show also deals with Alan's journey into becoming an American citizen, introduced by the scathing song “American” by his music director Lance Horne, a nasty little ballad that lays bare all that is worst about Cumming's adopted country.

Cumming's patter is nothing if not frank, and the show as a whole is very emotionally direct, which makes for an experience that is both intimate and expansive. Oh, and did I mention really, really funny? It was his naughty sense of humor as much as anything else that made his Tony winning turn in the revival of Cabaret a “star-making” one.

He's just as sassy and silly here, singing Cabaret's “Mein Herr” with a teasing restraint that crescendoes into a roar; still, the fact that the song is about a break-up has never been clearer. Cumming can be hilarious and heartbreaking in the very same moment, no small gift.

His show is also easily one of the gayest shows to be seen in this increasingly gay-friendly venue. Feinstein himself has become more candid about his life as a gay man, and his duet show with Cheyenne Jackson was full of gay pride and songs sung to other men. Cumming goes further still, into frank political commentary (he promoted the pro-gay marriage action group FightBackPac.blog) and a very personal song he himself wrote about the pleasure of waking next to his husband Grant. What a perfect and posh choice for Pride Week.

This week only, through 6/26. For tickets, click here.

For more reviews and interviews by Jonathan Warman, see dramaqueennyc.blog.

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