Cumming at the Opera House

Posted by

Every time I go to the Opera House I take a photograph of either the Opera House or the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Deep down, I know it’s provincial and parochial to photograph some so-called “world icons”, somehow holding on to a notion that Sydney is a “global city” whereas the other state capitals are “colonial outposts”. I recognise that, but I still think they’re great structures and they never fail to impress me with their beauty. And so of course, tonight, heading off to see Allan Cumming at The Studio at the Sydney Opera House I did the same again.

It had been a reasonably frustrating day for me at work. I felt like I didn’t achieve all that much. I felt like everything I attempted to do was stifled in some way, shape or form. I felt a bit like a “mid ranking bureaucrat” whose sole jobs was to send/receive emails that didn’t actually achieve any resolution. Hopefully, everything I did today, however, will have some resolution reasonably soon.

And then after work I caught up with a couple of colleagues for a post-work drinks. I couldn’t stay too long, though, as I’d made plans to meet Colin at Snakebean. When I’d agreed to have dinner with Damien last night at Snakebean, I’d forgotten I’d agreed exactly the same thing with Colin tonight. We were tight for time, though, so we only had the soft-shelled crab and some dumplings which we, pretty much, gulped down, ahead of catching a cab to the Opera House to see Allan Cumming. No double entendre intended, by the way :)

I don’t know if I’ve ever actually seen him in a film. And I don’t know if he’s a terribly good actor. But I have seen him interviewed on various chat shows and I’ve always found him extremely entertaining. One of the most memorable occasions was on the Graham Norton Show, when he was extremely entertaining and extraordinarily funnily.

Tonight, he revealed Graham was a good friend of his, and he told a very funny anecdote about how Graham was at Dolly Parton’s theme park, Dollywood around the time of 9/11. Prior to the attacks, he told us Graham and Dolly had floated down a waterway at the park in rubber tubes singing “Islands In The Stream”. “Gay men in the audience are cumming”, he joked. And then, when the attacks occured, he told us, they halted Dolly Parton music on the public address system, replacing it with news coverage.

Actually, he did a fair deal of name-dropping tonight. When I met so and so. When I did thus and thus. He continued the theme throughout the show. But you never got the feeling he was “big noting” himself. You had the feeling he was totally shocked and stunned by the success he’d had, and the feeling these were stories along the lines of “you’ll never guess what happened to me”.

The anecdotes were a key part of the show, but so too was the music. At times he sang really well, other times I thought he was okay. I found his quiet ballads lacking in a certain authenticity. I think it was sometimes about “hitting the notes” and not “hitting the meaning”. But mostly, he nailed every song extremely well. In fact, there were two occasions when he sang when I had goose-bumps.

The first was when he sang “Where I Want to Be” from “Chess”, which he introduced, somewhat ironically as a tune by ABBA. I’ve heard a lot of versions of this song, and I can honestly say his was the best. Located in the musical, it’s very much based around the character. But when it was sung tonight, it was a lyric we could all relate to as we struggle with the struggle of life.

The other moment was when he sang “Mein Herr” from “Cabaret”. In the musical, it’s sung as a slow and seductive song, almost dismissive in a way. But when he sang it tonight, slowly, and often spoken with a thick Scottish accent, the song was very seductive. I ached with anticipation as he moved towards the lines about he was searching “inch by inch, man by man”.

There were a couple of times tonight when I wanted to jump up and applaud. The “mood” wasn’t there until the very end though. Still, the crowd gave him a standing ovation, and deservedly so. “This has set a high bar for cabaret in Sydney”, I mentioned to Colin as we left the theatre tonight.

Afterwards, having a drink at the Opera House we talked about the show, with both of us concluding we had a great night. Very, very enjoyable. And very recommended.

Please leave a comment below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s