Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Actor, Singer Gets 'Sappy' and Powerful in Van Wezel Concert

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Actor, Singer Gets 'Sappy' and Powerful in Van Wezel Concert

Article excerpt

MUSIC REVIEW

Actor Alan Cumming says his goal on stage and in life these days is find ways to connect with audiences and the people he meets. And with his powerfully emotional concert "Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs" he certainly succeeds.

On Sunday night, the Scottish singer turned the vast Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall into an intimate nightclub or living room, sharing stories about his life and career experiences mixed with an eclectic assortment of songs that help you get to know who he is and what he thinks about himself and the world around him.

Those who know him only from his Tony-winning role as the provocative Master of Ceremonies in two Broadway productions of "Cabaret," or his Emmy-nominated performance as political operative Eli Gold on "The Good Wife," got to experience new aspects of his personality and his talent. And it seems that he continues to discover himself with each thoughtful interpretation of his musical choices.

Though his show is clearly planned and scripted (I saw a shortened version that aired last year on PBS), he presents it as an almost spontaneous program. Every well-chosen story is shared as if he's telling it for the first time, whether emotionally raw tales about his grandfather or his abusive father, or fancifully outrageous show business stories about his connections to Liza Minnelli and Miley Cyrus. After talking about his father, he sang Rufus Wainwright's "Dinner at Eight" about that singer's somewhat distant relationship with his father, singer Loudon Wainwright III, and though the situations are different, it brought tears to Cumming's eyes and to some in the audience.

"Sappy Songs" is the kind of show that easily and almost naturally segues from the power of "Goodnight Saigon," Billy Joel's look back at soldiers who survived the Vietnam War, to the hilarious condom ad Cumming wrote with his musical director and pianist Lance Horne. …

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