Tony Award-winning Alan Cumming has some stories to tell | ParkRecord.com

Tony Award-winning Alan Cumming has some stories to tell

Actor brings 'Sappy Songs' to Park City

Tony Award-winning actor Alan Cumming wants to share some stories and sing songs for a few hundred of his friends in Park City.

That's the idea the Scotsman wants to convey when he brings his "Sappy Songs" cabaret show to the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, Dec. 31.

The show will be an uncensored version of one that aired on PBS last November.

"What I'm doing is telling people about my life and singing songs about my life," Cumming told The Park Record during a phone call from the Catskill Mountains in New York. "It will also have a New Year segment, because New Years is a big thing for Scotsmen."

The idea for "Sappy Songs" came from an invitation to create a cabaret show for the Cafe Carlyle in New York.

"It was such a great honor because [the cafe] has been the home of so many legendary cabaret artists," Cumming said. "So, I said yes, and then thought, 'Crickey! What am I going to do?'"

Recommended Stories For You

Since he had done cabaret — a form of entertainment that features theater and song without the intricacies of a full production — before, Cumming decided to make this show more personal.

"I wanted to connect with the audience at a higher level in terms of what I was going to tell them and the songs I was going to sing," he said. "So, it is a smorgasbord of music styles and stories that will dip into different emotional places we've all been to."

The show was a way for the actor to discover the essence of who he really is.

"A lot has happened to me in my real life, which I wrote about in my last book ['Not My Father's Son: A Memoir,']" he said. "So, I can't really talk about my life without embracing what is in the book.

"What I've learned by doing the show is that the role I have chosen as a performer is being fulfilled properly by being honest, open and authentic," he said

Still, Cumming was intimidated at first by telling a hall of strangers about his childhood, which included living with an abusive father.

"It was really nerve wracking to reveal so much of myself, even though I had done quite a bit of that in my book," he said. "It's actually very different standing up and saying something than writing about it."

Throughout his career that started with live theater in Scotland, Cumming became a familiar face in film and TV.

He has been nominated for three Emmy Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and two Golden Globe Awards for his role as Eli Gold in "The Good Wife."

Cumming is also known for his appearances in films such as "Goldeneye," "Emma" and "X2: X-Men United."

He attributes the versatility to his training in Scotland.

"My biggest influence came early on because the acting style we have in Scotland is more confrontational," Cumming said. "The fourth wall is broken a lot. And in comedy, emotions are very high and easily interchanged."

Also, the tradition of storytelling in Scotland involves sentiment and songs.

"I learned huge lessons from actors who could be doing something hilarious one minute and then tugging at your heartstrings the next minute," he said. "[To me], it's so important to be light and on your toes.

"Coming to America, [I noticed] there are many actors, especially when it comes to American film, who aren't like that," he said. "They tend to take a long time to get into a character. They use a certain process to get there and then they become stuck."

While Cumming likes aspects of all performing outlets, he loves the theater.

"I enjoy the technology aspect of filming because it's really fascinating how you can manipulate something and manipulate yourself," he said. "But I really do like the theater, in terms of the connection you want to get with the audience. That, as an artist, is something you really want to try and achieve,

"This is where I get the feeling the most and this show is where I really have felt that connection, because it's just me," he said.

The cabaret forum is especially attractive to Cumming, because he can tour sporadically and reach live audiences, and still do films and continue his writing.

"I'm really fond of my 'Sappy Songs' show," he said. "These are stories that I would tell my friends. So, I hope the audience will feel like they are sitting in my living room and I'm not overexposing myself."

After a thought, Cumming quipped, "Maybe I should call my next show 'TMI.'"

The Park City Institute will present Tony Award-winning actor and singer Alan Cumming at 8 p.m., on New Year's Eve, Dec. 31, at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd. Tickets range from $49 to $189. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.ecclescenter.org.