Review – Alan Cumming’s “I Bought a Blue Car Today” – Vaudeville Theatre

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Tonight I went with J and Jess to see the opening performance of Alan Cumming’s one man show, “I Bought A Blue Car Today.” Despite this show having had runs in NYC and Australia, I hadn’t read any of the reviews and knew little of it other than it was Alan Cumming doing whatever he felt like. This suited me fine (though somehow I’d got it in my head that this was a stand-up comedy evening). While I can rarely be convinced to see a show based on one performer (I frequently can’t remember actors’ names and am nearly wholly immune to the clut of celebrity), fact of the matter is that Mr. Cumming is my #1 favorite stage actor and probably the only performer of stage or screen that I teenishly fangrrl over. I’m not saying I follow him online or have a poster of him on my wall or was waiting in line to get an autograph tonight; but I do think he’s painfully sexy on top of being a great actor and a good singer.

“I Bought A Blue Car Today” has actually very little in the way of narrative about Alan’s life in America, though he does explain why he went for citizenship (to overturn our previous fascist regime) and a little bit about some cultural confusion (no worse than mine here except for not understanding why being on Saturday Night Live was such a big deal). Instead, it’s full of fun and occasionally rude anecdotes about his life in showbiz, ranging from dancing with Walter Cronkite (at Cabaret) to riding a motorcycle up 5th Avenue while high. The anecdotes fill time between songs, which are really the heart of the show (available on the CD they’ll be happy to sell you in the lobby). They ranged from a Dolly Parton/Mika mashup to “Mein Herr” and on to some lovely original songs. Mostly the music was rather on the fluffy side, but really gave Mr. Cumming a chance to show of his pipes. It’s no surprise that he’s really quite a good singer; what’s a real shame is that with all of his movie roles, he so rarely gets to sing on stage, which is, in my mind, where he ought to be. The best of the night was “Where I Want to Be” from Chess; I’ve never seen it but with the 7 (?) piece band backing him, with extra trumpet, it really rocked the house and showed a lot of passion.

For any Alan Cumming fan, this was an unmissable evening, especially if you’d managed to pull 15 quid second row seats, and the audience was quite enthusiastic. But the guy has really got a good voice, and while I think he could have chosen better material, if you’re looking to catch a Broadway/West End performer at the peak of his performing career – unlike Liza, whose performances this last year showed a star faded almost to black – then this show would be worth the effort to see. As it is, it’s given me a host of dirty jokes to tell people (like the one about Anne Miller and Eyes Wide Shut) and I consider it a great start to the West End’s fall season.

Note: Alan Cumming also announced from his stage that he and his pianist were going to be doing a late night fundraising show on Thursday, so if you can’t get enough of either or both of them you’ve got another shot to load up while they’re in town. Here’s the email I just got from Nimax Theater’s about it: “Notes Unleashed! The Music of Lance Horne, will take to the stage at the Vaudeville Theatre on the Strand at 11.00pm on Thursday 3 September 2009, in a special one-night only event following Alan Cumming’s solo show at the Vaudeville that evening. It marks the London première of songs written by the Emmy Award winning composer, Lance Horne, with the composer at the piano.

“Olivier and Tony Award winner Alan Cumming will join West End stars Julie Atherton (Avenue Q), Aneurin Barnard (Spring Awakening), Simon Burke (La Cage Aux Folles), Alexandra Silber (Carousel), Hannah Waddingham (Spamalot, A Little Night Music) and Emma Williams (Zorro) in Notes Unleashed! The Music of Lance Horne, the inaugural edition of a late-night strand of the West End’s Notes from New York series at the Vaudeville Theatre on Thursday 3 September at 11.00pm. Book Online or call the Box Office on 0844 412 4663.”

(This review is for a performance that took place on Tuesday, September 1st. “I Bought a Blue Car Today” runs through Sunday, September 6th. And since someone asked about nudity, the answer is, no, Alan does not take his clothes off. *sniff*)

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One Response to “Review – Alan Cumming’s “I Bought a Blue Car Today” – Vaudeville Theatre”

  1. Review – Megan Mullally – Vaudeville Theatre « Life in the Cheap Seats – Webcowgirl’s London theatre reviews Says:

    […] – Vaudeville Theatre By webcowgirl Was it really less than six months ago that I saw Alan Cumming on the stage of the Vaudeville with his one man show? I had a lot of cause to remember it tonight as I watched Megan Mullally on […]

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