Alan Cumming in Hudson

Stunning talent, a likable personality and lots of embarrassing but hilarious personal anecdotes were packed into Alan Cumming’s cabaret show Sunday night at Club Helsinki in Hudson (12/2/12).

         Though he’s gone on to triumph in television and film, it was a Broadway role — the emcee in “Cabaret” — that made Cumming famous.  He offered one selection from that show, “Mein Herr.”  Otherwise, the material was all quite recent and not apparently extracted from any musicals, except a medley from “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”

So much for my comments after Charles Busch’s recent show at the same venue, that cabaret always means nostalgia.  The themes of Cumming’s songs and stories were utterly now.  They included gay sexuality, body modification (plastic surgery and regrettable tattoos), and American consumerism, among other stuff of today’s world.

It’s too much to say that it all came out as lovely poetry, even if there were some darned funny rhymes along the way, such as those in “Taylor, the Latte Boy,” a song Cumming borrowed from Kristin Chenoweth.  But even when Cumming was telling elaborate and explicit stories of drunken nights, bad breakups, and rude awakenings to middle age, he wasn’t harsh and comically offensive, say like Chris Rock.  Maybe along with his Scottish brogue came his gentle and eloquent way with words.

It’s another matter entirely to find good songs that cover the same ground but Cumming certainly did so.  Several of the selections were by his fine accompanist, Lance Horne.  And among Cumming’s other talents, he can also write words and music.  A showstopper was his “Next to Me.”  A kind of ode of gratitude for his husband, it starts as a ballad and ends with a belt.

Cumming has an impressive vocal technique, with a hearty and masculine forte and a fine controlled pianissimo.  He handled long phrases and jumps of register with unexpected ease while his diction — for all those words about modern life — was always crystal clear.

Besides that opening from “Cabaret,” the most familiar material in his set came at the end. The first encore was a medley of songs by Katy Perry and Adele, with Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory” as a refrain. That was followed by Annie Lenox’s “Why?”

Bringing a star like Cumming to the intimate venue in Hudson will be tough to top.  It’s going to be fun to see what the producers of Helsinki on Broadway can come up with next.

Originally published in the Times Union.

Prevously on MyBigGayEars: 

Charles Busch at Club Helsinki

 

 

 

 



2 Responses to “Alan Cumming in Hudson”

  1. Douglas Cohn says:

    Loved your Cumming review!

    D.

  2. cynthia kirby says:

    Right on!!!!

    You obviously got what Alan’s all about and relates to gays and straights equally.

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