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Review: Alan Cumming sings Sappy Songs

Alan Cumming

Alan Cumming is clearly enjoying his Scottish homecoming at the Edinburgh International Festival.

The Hub, Edinburgh
****

The Scottish actor/singer/writer is probably best known for the role of  Emcee in Cabaret on Broadway, a recent role as Eli Gold in US drama The Good Wife and frequent appearances on stage, film and television over the past two decades.

An evening that moves frequently between tears and laughter, this show is as much about his winning between-song chat as the big numbers themselves. He’s ably supported by a tight band of grand piano, cello and drums mixed with his own inimitable outrageousness.

The banter is heartfelt and painfully honest too. He can deliver hilarious anecdotes about hanging out in Liza Minnelli’s hotel room, but also tell the tale of how his abusive father disowned him with genuine emotion.

Cumming opened with Annie Lennox’s ‘Why’, a deeply personal interpretation of this well-known classic. He brings theatrical authority to tunes from Noel Coward to Stephen Sondheim. The poignant ‘Mother Glasgow’ sits easily alongside a mash-up of Katy Perry, Adele and Lady Gaga, but the high point was Rufus’Wainwright’s ballad of father-son conflict, ‘Dinner at Eight’, which had most of the audience reaching for their tissues.

Sappy Songs proves a camply tasty treat, and all in all, truly an evening of intimacy at Club Cumming.

● At the Hub, Edinburgh, until 27 August. Box office: 0131-473 2000.
Club Cumming with Alan Cumming

 

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