I don't think of Alan Cumming as being first and foremost a song-and-dance man, but that is likely the result of my increasing short-term memory issues. After all, Cumming won a Tony Award for his role as the Emcee in the acclaimed Broadway revival of Cabaret, and has had prominent musical roles in Rob Marshall's TV adaptation of Annie and in Showtime's Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical. He is slated next to play a singing Green Goblin in Julie Taymor's increasingly big-budget stage production, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.
Before he tackles that highly anticipated, Bono-penned show full-throttle, however, Cumming is performing his one-man show-with-music, I Bought a Blue Car Today in certain US cities (for a list of scheduled performances, please visit his official website). The pseudo-cast recording, Alan Cumming's I Bought a Blue Car Today,has just been released today on Yellow Sound Label. It is also being described as Cumming's debut solo album.
A naturalized US citizen originally from Scotland, Cumming explains the title in his CD's introductory notes. "There is a bit in the (citizenship) test where the man says a sentence and you have to write it down to prove your prowess in English," he writes. "My sentence was 'I bought a blue car today' which initially I thought was really sweet and child-like, but on closer examination I realized it is all about consumerism and gas guzzling and rather brilliantly manages to encapsulate America's financial and energy crises in one fell swoop."
Cumming doesn't have the prettiest nor most polished singing voice, but he has passion to spare as well as a knack for dramatic interpretation. Most of the songs on the CD are covers, including Cyndi Lauper's rousing "Shine," "Wig in a Box" and "Wicked Little Town" from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and "Here You Come Again," popularized by Dolly Parton. The openly bisexual Cumming also puts his unique spin on "Mein Herr" from Cabaret and "What More Can I Say" from Falsettoland.
The CD, like the artist behind it, is a unique compilation; "Where I Want to Be" from Chess and "All I Know" from — of all things — Disney's Chicken Little are also included. The delightful but foul-mouthed closing song, "Beautiful," was written (according to the liner notes) by Cumming's personal friend for a 96-year old woman's birthday!
Whether you are able to catch Cumming live on stage or not, I recommend I Bought a Blue Car Today on CD (click hereto purchase from Amazon.com).
Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.