Why Alan Cumming Doesn’t Believe in Being ‘Coy’ About Onstage Nudity in His New Play

Video   Why Alan Cumming Doesn’t Believe in Being ‘Coy’ About Onstage Nudity in His New Play
 
The Broadway favorite talks about his new Off-Broadway play and an onstage injury from his time in Cabaret.

On January 28, Tony winner and four-time Emmy nominee Alan Cumming (Cabaret, TV's The Good Wife) visited Late Night With Seth Meyers as he prepares to open the new Off-Broadway play Daddy, by Slave Play scribe Jeremy O. Harris.

What’s got a lot of folks buzzing is the nudity in the play. “There is a lot of nudity of myself and that gentleman there, Ronald Peet,” Cumming confesses. “This is another exploration of race and queerness and intergenerational things. And, there's a swimming pool onstage. ... I'm an art collector in LA, and I'm very rich, and I have a big, swanky house, so there's a pool, and a lot of the time I'm naked in the pool.”

But just as in Slave Play, which premiered at New York Theatre Workshop, the nudity serves an intense and important story about sexuality and identity.

“The good thing I think about nudity,” Cumming continues, “I think if you're going to do it—especially with this play, which is about really important discussions about things I think should be talked about, and we're not talking about them in this country enough—the nakedness, you can't be coy about things like that. So I'm like, ‘Let’s just do it, and hopefully after a couple of minutes people will stop checking you out and listen.’”

Cumming has always been one to lean into the sensuality of a performance, including in his Tony-winning turn in Cabaret. But one night, something went wrong onstage. Cumming was having a congestion issues, so “I sexily ambled over to the side of the stage to blow my nose and then I thought, ‘Oh, I'm late!’ I ran back on, but it was a new route, where I was going, and I banged my head into this thing. I remember at the intermission I crawled up to my dressing room and was lying on the floor obviously in a state of concussion and the stage manager was over me,[asking], ‘Do you think you can do the second half, Alan?‘”

He was rushed to the hospital with a concussion, but he wasn’t the only person at Cabaret who fell ill that day.

“It was a very hot day, and there was a lady in the audience who had fainted with heat and excitement. She had been taken to the hospital. I had been taken to the same hospital,” he explained. “I had these tubes and a mask, my body went into shock. But they said, ‘There’s a lady next door who was a member of the audience and she was so upset because she’s been wanting to see you for months and months and months and she’s so sad that she missed the second half of the show. Would you go in and see her?’”

So Cumming prepared to greet his fan. “They said to her, ‘Remember how you'd been looking forward to seeing Alan Cumming? Well, here he is!’” he laughed. “They wheeled me in with my mask!” Watch him tell the full story below.

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