Alan Cumming told ‘Hello’ magazine his new show was ‘me with a band singing some songs I like, and telling stories about what’s happened to me in the ten years since I moved to America’.

That this is truthfully the middle and both ends of it disguises the fact that it’s a beguiling evening in company of an undeniably charming performer. Although the band seems recruited from music schools and possibly tube stations expressly for this show, they blaze a trail from choky, smoky jazz to bumping grinding Dolly Parton with panache.

Cumming’s musical choices roam the genres from Cole Porter to Cindy Lauper, but also defeat his ability to nail a personal performance style. He occasionally seems tentative in the torch songs but in rocker mode his vocals and his free left hand threaten to punch a hole in the fourth wall.

The confessional anecdotes interspersed with the songs are clearly from the heart but may be familiar to fans of this well-publicised actor, and the name-dropping varies from the deceased (Walter Cronkite, Ann Miller) to the less-than-topically famous, although through a thin story about crashing for the afternoon in the apartment of John Cameron Mitchell he leads in to a blinding medley from Mitchell’s ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’.

When someone is as massively and variously talented in writing, music, acting, film-making and OBE-deserving gay activism as Cumming, and at 44 appears as gamine and youthful as a baby-faced Marc Almond (whose hairstyle and fondness for mascara he appears to have appropriated wholesale) then chirrups gaily for two hours about his transatlantic dual citizenship, public fame and happy marriage, you’re not sure whether you want to embrace him or kill him.

Let’s go with embrace for now.

I Bought a Blue Car Today is at the Vaudeville for the rest of the week, including two shows on Sunday 6/9, and a one-off late-night AIDS benefit performance on Thursday 3/9 at 11pm featuring an assortment of West End Wendys warbling the works of his musical collaborator, Lance Horne. Tickets £19-27.50.

Image by Helen Maybanks

Londonist Originally published on Londonist