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Cabaret Festival

Alan Cumming is not acting his age

Cabaret Festival

Adelaide Cabaret Festival artistic director Alan Cumming will let loose his ‘puckish, eclectic spirit and joie de vivre’ in his new show, an evening of story and song set to premiere as part of the 2021 program.

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“I sometimes look in the mirror and think: ‘Who’s that old guy?’,” says Alan Cumming, describing a feeling all too familiar to those over a certain age.

The Scottish-American actor, singer and 2021 Adelaide Cabaret Festival artistic director is talking on the phone from the US about Alan Cumming is Not Acting His Age – announced today as one of the early-release shows on his program for the festival, which will run from June 11-26.

It will be the latest in a series of cabaret shows Cumming has performed over the past decade in which he picks a theme and then weaves an entertaining evening of song and storytelling around it: the most recent, 2018’s Legal Immigrant, was inspired partly by his 10-year anniversary of becoming a US citizen and the negative rhetoric around immigration.

Alan Cumming is Not Acting His Age is, as you might deduce, about ageing – and, more specifically, how he feels about it.

“The thing I want to talk about is what does that actually mean,” Cumming says, when asked how he’s not acting his age.

“I think it’s interesting when you meet people who are young enough to be your children and you’re having a nice time with them and then you suddenly think, ‘They haven’t had 50 years on the planet’.

“It’s more about my sensibility… I’m very vivacious and I have a childlike curiosity – something I think people suppress as they get older, and I haven’t done that.”

Presented with a band and a musical director, Alan Cumming is Not Acting His Age will have its world premiere at the Festival Theatre on the final weekend of the Cabaret Festival, with the Adelaide Festival Centre saying it will celebrate and explore Cumming’s “puckish, eclectic spirit and joie de vivre”.

The show will include a “very eclectic” list of songs he has been collecting during the COVID-19 lockdown, including opening number “But Alive”, sung by Lauren Bacall in the musical Applause.

Cumming, announced in June as the festival’s first international artistic director, was born in Scotland but lives in New York and has had an extensive career as an award-winning actor, singer and Broadway performer, with credits ranging from the Broadway production of Cabaret to long-running TV series The Good Wife (in which he played political spin-master Eli Gold). He presented two sold-out performances of his show Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs at Her Majesty’s Theatre at the 2017 Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

Although he’s intending to have some other international artists on his 2021 Adelaide Cabaret Festival program, he says he wants to showcase Australian cabaret, “so it’s a home-grown celebration from an outsider’s view”.

“There’s a few things in the festival that are really Australian extravaganzas… it’s mostly about rethinking cabaret and making it as daring and provocative and entertaining as possible.”

Also announced today is the Cabaret Festival Variety Gala, which celebrates the festival’s 21st anniversary and will be hosted by Hans – “the Berlin Boy Wonder” – on June 11 at the Festival Theatre.

A further four early-release shows will be revealed tomorrow.

 

A clip from Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs, which was presented at the 2017 Adelaide Cabaret Festival:

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