Take Five | Five questions for Alan Cumming

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Alan Cumming: Alan Cumming has played the Emcee in "Cabaret" on Broadway — more than once — and won a Tony Award for his first go-round in the musical in 1998. His role as Eli Gold on the CBS series "The Good Wife," earned him several Emmy, SAG and Golden Globe nominations. He has performed in concert halls and on stages around the world, and is an activist for LGBT civil rights and in the campaign to fight HIV/AIDS. On Monday, July 18, he performs his new one-man show, "Alan Cumming Sings Snappy Songs" at the Mahaiwe 2016 Gala. He took a bit of time out from his schedule to answer some Take Five questions for BWSV:

1. What led you to create this show?: Well, I was asked by the Cafe Carlyle to premiere a new cabaret show there and I thought if I am going to do a new show, I want it to be really emotionally honest and authentic to who I am right now — a man aged 50!

2. What were the challenges in putting it together?: Finding a through line, really. The songs are either ones I have always loved and wanted to sing or ones that I listened to at 'Club Cumming' (my dressing-room parties after performances of Cabaret at Studio 54 on Broadway) and that I fell in love with. Some of them are by artistes that I never felt I would love or songs I never thought I would sing, but I think that when you listen to a song without prejudice sometimes you can hear it in a different way. Also, all the songs are ones that I feel I can bring something to, maybe make the audience rediscover them. There is no point in me singing a song if I can't reinvent it or reinterpret it. I don't have a nice enough voice to just sing a song well. But ultimately, the songs led me to the idea of making the whole show about authenticity. And so the stories in between sort of came together because of them and then I suddenly had a shape and a show!

3. You've been doing this show for a while now, on tour. What have you discovered about this show that perhaps you didn't expect to find?: Just how much I love doing the show. [I love doing it] for various reasons, but I can get my performance fix doing the concerts and I don't have to commit to doing six months on Broadway — I can do little spurts of tours. And there's much more of an intense connection for me, just because I'm talking to the audience as myself. In theater, it's like there's a veil of the character between you and the audience — when people like you and you're well-known, they come not just because of the characters you're playing, but because of you, and that comes through. When I'm being just Alan and not Macbeth or someone else, it takes a while to get used to.

4. Overall, what is the joy or satisfaction you get from performing?: The connection with the audience is really amazing, incredibly intimate, and also hilarious and bawdy and tender, too. There is nothing like it. I feel like we've all gone through something together by the end.

5. What makes you laugh?: I laugh all the time. My band and I just scream with laughter every night after the show. We even have a tour hashtag: #neverstayin. Also, my husband makes me laugh all the time, even when I don't want to. And my dogs. Oh you know, there is a lot to laugh at in our world today!


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