Alan Cumming Shares His Theatregoing Experiences

Favorite Things   Tony Winner Alan Cumming Shares His Theatregoing Experiences
 
Tony Award winner Alan Cumming will celebrate his new album, "Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs" (due Feb. 5 on the Yellow Sound Label), with a Feb. 8 concert at Carnegie Hall, where he will be joined by Kristin Chenoweth, Darren Criss and Ricki Lake. Here, the Cabaret star shares the performances that most affected him as part of the audience.
Alan Cumming
Alan Cumming

Black Watch at St. Ann’s Warehouse

National Theatre of Scotland&#39;s <i>Black Watch</i><br/>
National Theatre of Scotland's Black Watch
Manuel Harlan

This National Theatre of Scotland production about the Black Watch regiment was one of the most exciting and innovative pieces of theatre I’ve ever seen. It made me proud to be Scottish.

Liza's at the Palace

<i>Liza's at the Palace</i>
Liza's at the Palace

Liza’s homage to her godmother, Kay Thompson, was one of the most amazing nights I’ve ever had in the theatre. She somehow can be so vulnerable and fragile that we worry for her, and then our energy seems to fuel her and send her into the stratosphere. I went to the opening night, and it was magical.

Patti LuPone in Gypsy

Patti LuPone in <i>Gypsy</i>
Patti LuPone in Gypsy Joan Marcus

I judge greatness in the theatre by how much something makes me gasp. This almost surreal and electric production and Patti’s terrifying and primal performance was way off the gasp charts. I went again the very next day.

Sleep No More

Sleep No More
Sleep No More Thomas Kaine

Punchdrunk’s site-specific and interactive masterpiece based on Macbeth is an other-worldly Pandora’s box of sensuality and fear. I liked it so much I asked if I could be in it, and I was for a couple of shows, playing a doctor, taking an audience member into a room and tucking them up in bed, almost kissing them, then spitting out a nail from my mouth. (You had to be there.) Go see it and let it blow your mind.

Shockheaded Peter

The Tiger Lillies
The Tiger Lillies

The scariest, creepiest, funniest, most magical tall gothic tale of darkness and mischief. And the Tiger Lillies music to boot!

Kiki and Herb at Carnegie Hall

Kiki and Herb
Kiki and Herb

These two downtown sensations, who are reforming this spring to do some shows at Joe’s Pub, played Carnegie Hall in a one-night-only extravaganza, which was, by turns, desperately moving, hilarious and just beautifully wrong.

Sylvie Guillem - Life In Progress

Sylvie Guillem in <i>Life in Progress</i>
Sylvie Guillem in Life in Progress Bill Cooper

This was her farewell to dance tour, and it totally blew my mind. She is one of the most fascinating dancers I have ever seen on stage, a free spirit and an incredible artist. Her body is insane and what it can do, still, is mind-blowing.

La Fura dels Baus

La Fura dels Baus

This is a Spanish company who blur the lines between the audience and the actors, and I saw them in a warehouse in Sydney in 1989. It was a terrifying experience as they were thundering through the audience in chariots and tanks of water were being turned over, and it was like being in the middle of a battle. But it was so supremely alive and energizing and yes, gasp-inducing.

A Streetcar Named Desire, with Cate Blanchett, directed by Liv Ullmann at BAM

Cate Blanchett in A Streetcar Named Desire
Cate Blanchett in A Streetcar Named Desire Lisa Tomasetti

This was staggering. There was one silent moment when the lights come up on the bed. Stanley was asleep. Blanche had her back completely to us, yet in that moment we saw a broken woman, who knew she was finished.

Tectonic Plates

Robert Lepage's <i>Tectonic Plates</i>
Robert Lepage's Tectonic Plates Photo by Claudel Huot

Robert Lepage, the French Canadian theatre artist, directed this production of fractured lives and stories, and I saw it when I was very young in Glasgow at the Tramway, and it changed my life. It made me realize that theatre didn’t have to be always linear and plot driven. Sometimes it could be like dance, more just ideas and feelings than just a story.

Dina Martina

Dina Martina
Dina Martina

It's hard to describe Dina. Surreal drag? Dadaist gender satire? The funniest thing you’ll have ever seen and you can't really describe why? All of the above. Her recent Christmas show at BB Kings made me ache, truly ache. For days. I love her.

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