BWW Review: ALAN CUMMING: LEGAL IMMIGRANT at The Kennedy Center

BWW Review: ALAN CUMMING: LEGAL IMMIGRANT at The Kennedy Center

Alan Cumming really is a delight. His cabaret Legal Immigrant, performed at the Kennedy Center on Saturday night, is a seamless blend of music and hilarious anecdote. Cumming's musical selection runs the gamut, from Sondheim to Disney to Adele. He's a great singer and manages to inject each varied selection with sparkling personality and emotional sensitivity.

Cumming strings together his songs with really funny bits of stand up comedy. These little stories are always perfectly timed and never feel over-rehearsed. There's a great bit about his one deviation from veganism (trying a friend's placenta pill) and another about his inability to hold a prop gun properly in his role on the cop show Instinct. I honestly would have been happy just hearing Cumming tell stories all night, so much so that the songs were almost an added bonus.

The show is themed around immigration, and the shameful hostility that the United States has developed towards newcomers in the ten years since Cumming became a citizen and in the two years since Trump became president. There were some elements to Cumming's political commentary that felt a little bit off to me-granted, Cumming is an immigrant, but he's a white one, as were most of the non-American composers whose work he performed. Until he acknowledged that fact half way through the show, most of his talk about immigrants' value felt more self-congratulatory than politically rousing. After that halfway point, however, Cumming was much more effective in creating a sense of catharsis and shared resistance.

Early in the evening Cumming mentions that one of his goals is to allow people to thoroughly enjoy even the cheesiest of songs. By the end of the night, the audience was singing along to a spirited rendition of "Tomorrow" supported by the glorious Gay Man's Chorus of Washington, DC. Mission absolutely achieved.

Alan Cumming: Legal Immigrant was performed on July 28, 2018 at the Kennedy Center.

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From This Author Hannah Landsberger

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