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Photo by Dan Fortune PR.

Daniel Nardicio certainly gives tickets buyers their money’s worth. The nightlife extraordinaire has made quite a niche for himself in the last few years producing major concerts for celebs including Liza Minnelli, Chita Rivera, Carol Channing, Lady Gaga, and others. On Monday February 8th Nardicio managed to pack the house at Carnegie Hall with eager fans of Golden Globe, Emmy, SAG, and Tony Award winning performer, Alan Cumming.

Best known for his roles as Eli Gold on television’s The Good Wife as well as for his star turn as the Emcee in the last two revivals of Broadway’s Cabaret, the multi-award winner took to the grand stage for  Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs With Friends. The evening also marked the release of his new recording of the same name. The album, available on the Yellow Sound Label,  was captured last year at the Café Carlye.  Cumming received high praise for that engagement, convincing Nardicio to present it on a larger scale.

Photo by Dan Fortune PR.
Photo by Koitz.

Lance Horne, his incredibly skillful music director and pianist, led a small but impeccable ensemble including Eleanor Norton (cello), Chris Jago (drums), and Michael Croiter (guitar and percussion). Matt Berman’s lighting and sound design enhanced the evening’s proceedings.

Cumming, an unabashed hedonist and pleasure seeker, expressed a more vulnerable side and presented his audience with some major gravitas as he shared intimate details about his life. He was careful to  balance it, however with his typical devilishness and debauchery.  He opened his show with a cover of Annie Lennox’s “Why”, followed by Keane’s 2004 hit, “Somewhere Only We Know”.  After his version of “The Climb”, he joked to audiences that they probably weren’t expecting to hear him sing a Miley Cyrus cover at Carnegie Hall.  Yet Cumming is a performer who truly defies a label and his varied  mix of songs matched the eclectic man himself. As he noted at the top of his show, each song resonated with him at some point in his life. He continued the with Billy Joel’s “Goodnight Saigon”, and then brought some levity with a condom commercial jingle called “Ecstacy”.

On hand to share in the latex laugh was Emmy winner Ricki Lake. Lake was the first of many guests he would invite to the stage. Later, his fellow Broadway stars- Emmy nominee Darren Criss and Tony Award winner Kristin Chenoweth joined him. Near the grand finale, the entire New York City Gay Men’s Chorus flooded the space to provide back up vocals for the Avril Lavigne cover “Complicated”. Other highlights in the evening included his own hauntingly beautiful rendition of “You, You, You”, from last season’s Broadway show The Visit, a mash-up of Adele, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry called “Someone Like the Edge of Firework”, and a painful, heart wrenching take of “Dinner at Eight”. Cumming prefaced the Rufus Wainright selection with a story about his abusive father (which he speaks of at length in his memoir, “Not My Father’s Son”)

Photo by Dan Fortune PR
Photo by Koitz

Designer Kenneth Cole was represented, providing his trademark chic New York style to the spritely 51 year old and his band. Cumming began the evening in a fashionable black tux jacket with black leather pants and quickly scrapped the coat to reveal a sleeveless tux shirt. A white dinner jacket and shorts welcomed him to the second act, and only Cumming- with his irreplicable panache -could make it work.

Photo by Dan Fortune PR
Photo by Koitz 

While he’s not one to shy away from a great story, the evening did begin to weigh heavy near the end. As one who advocates for a “always leave em wanting more” approach, I was more than satisfied at the two and a half hour mark of this three hour concert. Still, Cumming is an undeniably charismastic performer who succeeded by exposing his wounded, yet wonderful heart in a night of rich and riveting song.