Alan Cumming at the Hollywood Bowl

On September 18, 19, and 20th, Alan Cumming made his debut appearance at the Hollywood Bowl in California. Being a native East Coaster and a huge fan of Alan, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to fly across the country to see him perform Saturday and Sunday nights. Let me just say, he was incredible. Alan's voice has grown incredibly since his beginning "Cabaret" days. He performed 3 songs: A "Cabaret" medley, "Twentieth Century Blues" by Noel Coward, and "Being Alive" from "Company" by Stephen Sondheim.

I would like to thank two incredibly generous people for making my trip possible. First of all, thanks to IL Linda, whose travel pass I used to fly to LAX! Secondly, but not least, I want to thank listmate Andrea for opening her home to me and shuttling me around town and being an incredibly gracious and patient tour guide. You two are the best.

Below, you will find some messages I sent to the listsibs regarding my trip and Alan's performances. Please read on and learn more about this spectacular event!

Well, I am here in LA with a few spare moments of free time, so I thought I would let you all know about the show last night. (BTW--I'm going on very little sleep, so please forgive any errors in my message. I was up for 24 hours straight yesterday and only got a few hours last night). WARNING: This will be a spoiler for those of you who are attending tonight's show!

Alan was wonderful! He looked very sexy in a pair of black (what we think is leather) pants, matching jacket (that hung to about mid-thigh level) and a white shirt underneath that said "Modernist". His hair has much improved (as you could tell from the BAFTA event) and I really like the way he is wearing it now.

Andrea, her mom, and myself all got to the Bowl in time to enjoy a lovely picnic dinner before the show. Andrea and her mom had box seats with a really great view, and I sat with them during dinner, planning to move to my much farther away seat once their box mates showed up. However, as the beginning of the show got closer and closer, their box mates were still nowhere to be seen, so I got to enjoy the show from their box too!

I had my binoculars and camera ready for when Alan came on stage, but I thoroughly enjoyed the other performers. Alan didn't come on until after intermission, so we got to see Charlotte Church (her voice is incredible!!!) and Ann Miller (who seemed to be ecstatic to be making her Bowl debut).

After what seemed like the longest intermission in symphony history, the orchestra made its way back to the stage and started playing a medley of "Cabaret" tunes which had been arranged especially for the Bowl that night. Then, the conductor moved to the microphone to introduce "his next guest" and described Alan as a young comic that he had met in Glasgow 10 years ago, who had just won a Tony for his performance in "Cabaret", named all his recent movies, plus plugging P&M and Annie for him, and said that Alan was making his "Bowl, Symphony, and West Coast Debut" and then Alan walked out on stage!

He sang three songs: a medley from Cabaret which included "Willkommen" and "Cabaret", "A Noel Coward song that he's always wanted to sing" called "Twentieth Century Blues", and "Being Alive." The final two songs he sang with piano accompaniment. "Twentieth Century Blues" melted me: he was singing so low, and with such feeling.... it was really quite beautiful. I think it really showcased the best part of his vocal chords.

Then, he came back on stage at the end for a rendition of (Oh, how embarrassing, I can't recall the name of it, but it's the New Year's Eve song) with all the headliners (except Charlotte Church who had left already). Andrea and I had already positioned ourselves for a quick exit from the theatre so we could try to catch Alan after the show. We pushed our way through the crowd to the "Artist's Entrance" and stood there for a brief moment, wondering how long we would have to wait for him to come out. Andrea spotted him first. The whole area was dark, but there was no mistaking the man who stood behind the gate talking to several people. I quickly began to dig through my bag for my pen and programs, but before we knew what was happening, Alan was being shepherded out of the Bowl by two "muscly guys from West Hollywood" (sorry, I couldn't resist) who appeared just to be security. Andrea and I stood helpless as he was walked to his waiting limo. We watched with sad looks on our faces as the three of them climbed into the back seat of the limo. My arm fell limp at my side as I realized I wouldn't get a chance to say anything to him. Then, the three of them climbed back out of the limo, and walked to the limo behind them and climbed into that one: they had gotten into the wrong limo! Andrea and I found this mildly amusing, and we watched sadly as his limo slowly pulled away in traffic. We stopped ourselves from throwing our bodies against the window crying, "Wait, Alan, please don't go!"

I thought the performance was great. I think Alan's numbers lacked the energy that went along with the other performers, but the numbers he chose were beautiful and he seemed happy with them. I took many illegal photographs, but I don't know how well any of them will come out.

Ok, I must go now! We're heading to the beach this morning for my first look at the Pacific Ocean!

I must say I was pleased to see Alan's fans better represented last night than on Saturday night. Saturday, I felt as if Andrea and I were the only two who were really cheering for him. But last night, there were at least three different "Alan Fan" sections in the Bowl: the group down front, our little group in the "Super Seats" and then a group farther behind us.

Last night's performance was much livelier than Saturday, and the crowd was better too, I thought. Alan's commentary was much lengthier and really quite hilarious! His second song is still my most favorite!

Well, I might get inspired later to write more details about the show, but I'm off to roam the streets of Hollywood!

On Sat. when he sang the "Cabaret" medley, he just seemed sort of to be doing it, not really emotionally or anything. The one thing that stood out in my mind was that he wasn't in character either: it was Alan, singing a song. Not the Emcee. But at last night's performance, he kind of slipped back into character during the "Willkommen" bit, and he was much more energized and into the song. I would love to have an audio recording of last night's performance.

Alan didn't do any songs with Lea except for the finale (Auld Lang Syde). She was there, and sounded terrific. I didn't get the real feeling from her performance at Broadway Bares that she was an awesome singer, but she was terrific at the Bowl. The crowd really loved her too.

Something else I don't think that has been mentioned yet: Alan was really taken with Ann Miller (who is one of the old-time movie stars). He mentioned her Sunday night on stage and said "He would have come and played the maracas just to see Ann Miller do this" and he crossed his arms and wiggled his hands like Ann had done during her performance. He also said, "She has a wicked sense of humor" which makes me think that they got along real well. Also, I think it was after the "Cabaret" medley, someone shouted from the audience "I love you Alan" to which he paused and replied "I love you too. I got that line from Ann Miller." (The same thing had happened with her and that was her reply to her adoring fan). I just think itís really cute that Alan was so taken with this 70-year-old movie star.

If memory serves me correct (and Andrea and the other attending listsibs can feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) "Being Alive" was a sort of moderately paced song, but like Andrea said, he put an enormous amount of emotion and feeling into it that made it very special. "20th Century Blues" has mixed tempos: it starts out slow and easy and kind of builds up to a faster paced song. It's really cute because Alan sort of cues the piano player by pointing at him and saying, "Hit it!" when its time to speed things up.

No, it was less of a bark, and more of an excited command (he's very commanding you know). :-) Sunday night he wore the same pants and jacket, but with a bluish purple shirt on underneath. Hmm....I think he wore that on Friday night too. (Andrea had some friends attending Friday night's show who told us all about that performance).