When performer Alan Cumming developed a musical cabaret show for a two-week run at The Café Carlyle in New York back in 2015, he thought the gig would end there. The critical response was so positive, however, and he had such a great experience doing it, that he took it on the road and stuck with it, taking the piece to Carnegie Hall and even recording an album version. The out actor, as comfortable in a film or TV role as he is in an intimate onstage show such as this, brings his “Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs” to Atlanta March 3.

It’s the most personal work he has ever done. When he was putting it together, it took him a long time to finalize his song list.

“It was all songs I wanted to sing or that people said I should sing,” he told Georgia Voice. “I said if I am going to do a show like this I want to make the stakes higher. There are some things that have happened in my life that I didn’t want to ignore.”

‘Cabaret,’ Annie Lennox songs included

The setlist includes everything from Annie Lennox to Rufus Wainwright to numbers from his Tony Award-winning run in “Cabaret” as well as – in one memorable bit – his own indelible take on “The Ladies Who Lunch,” from Stephen Sondheim’s “Company,” made immortal by the late Elaine Stritch.

“All the songs have this emotional connection,” he said. “I love them all. That is why I named it ‘Sappy Songs.’”

The cabaret underwent some subtle changes since its 2015 run. It’s a bit more streamlined and finely honed, he said, but there are no radical changes.

“No matter what you are doing, in a concert, it’s a journey,” Cumming said. “There are variations depending on the musicians I have, but I have worked out the journey.”

‘I really like to engage the audience’

Cumming, who celebrated his 10th anniversary with his husband Grant earlier this year, does promise a bit of humor as well and some talk, usually about what is going on in the world on that day.

“I really like to engage the audience,” he said.

Cumming performed in Atlanta only once before as part of for the Alliance Theatre’s “A Tony Evening” back in 2011. He promises much for an LGBT audience in “Sappy Songs,” including a number about a tattoo of a boy’s name he got that he later removed. He mixes in some Adele, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry and talks about Liza Minnelli. He also discusses his relationship with his father, which he explored in his memoir “Not My Father’s Son.”

“It’s a very queer show,” he said. “I am vocal and I am glad that I am I am lucky enough to have a platform.”

He will be seenn later this year in two films, “The Battle of the Sexes “ – about the tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs – and the independent feature “After Louie.” Cumming returns to TV in the fall with “Dr. Death,” about a former CIA operative. He enjoys being able to flip back and forth between higher profile films and TV shows and smaller events like this.

“I do go back and forth,” he said. “I think it’s important to be eclectic, but I do have an intense connection with a show like this.”

“Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs”
March 3, 2017 at 8 p.m.
Atlanta Symphony Hall
1280 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta, GA 30309
www.aso.org

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