Although he grew up in Scotland speaking the King’s English, when actor, singer, dancer, emcee, author, reality show host and all-around performer Alan Cumming first came to the United States at the age of 30, the two most foreign words for him were Tucson and Boca Raton.
“I had never heard that name before,” he says. “I thought it was a Mexican dish.”
Since then, he’s added Boca Raton to his vocabulary and has been here more than a few times. Cumming will be returning April 22 for his latest cabaret show, Alan Cumming Is Not Acting His Age.
Well-known in the U.S. for his role as campaign manager Eli Gold in the CBS series The Good Wife, Cumming, 58, has performed in concert halls across the globe, including the Sydney Opera House, London Palladium, Hollywood Bowl and Carnegie Hall. Cumming has played God, the Devil, Hitler, the pope, a teleporting superhero, Hamlet, all the parts in Macbeth and the emcee in Cabaret in the West End and on Broadway.
He is a five-time Emmy award nominee and two-time Tony Award winner as well as Olivier and BAFTA award winner and the author of two children’s books, a book of photographs and stories, a novel and a best-selling memoir, Not My Father’s Son.
“We are thrilled to have this iconic performer grace our stage as The Studio at Mizner Park makes its mark as one of South Florida’s newest venues,” said Peg Anderson, president of the Cultural Arts Association Board, the organization responsible for managing the venue, which opened in December.
Much to his own surprise, most recently Cumming agreed to host streaming service Peacock’s reality competition series The Traitors in a remote Scottish castle and is having a blast.
“I never imagined myself hosting a reality show,” Cumming says by phone from New York, where he lives, “but they asked and I said yes.”
“I try to stay open to all opportunities. I enjoy my work and as an artist like connecting to others.”
Staying open and saying yes is part of Cumming’s vernacular and zest for life and cabaret, the perfect format for his type of showmanship.
“Cabaret is eclectic,” he says. “It’s exciting. One moment you can laugh, and cry the next. You can be provocative or funny. It’s a smorgasbord of genres and emotions.
“It’s a good match for me and my interests,” he says. “I can get them all out in one evening.
“I like to feel engaged with life, share my feelings with the audience and see what other people are feeling,” he says. “I enjoy being provocative and am a very in-the-moment, hungry-for-life person.
“All my drive is about being interested and curious about life and about the work I do. I’m like a magpie – I like shiny objects.”
His current life, with its frenetic pace and great success, is not something he ever imagined.
“My life is completely different and in another sphere from growing up in rural Scotland,” he says. “I could never have imagined the life I have now.”
“I was happy living in London and never even visited the United States until I was 30,” he remembers. “I’ve given some thought to my success and know I’m talented, but there are others more talented. I believe my success comes from being open to most anything.”
“I’m open to all ideas — even bizarre ideas,” he says. “I’m open to circumstance, fate and keeping a good attitude.”
With so much on his plate, Cumming has a complicated color-coded calendar system, but also goes with the flow.
On a recent visit to Boston to shoot Masterpiece: Mystery (which he hosts), Cumming went out with the crew to the local bars and nightclubs to have a few drinks, meet the locals and enjoy the evening.
“It’s about not having a plan, just letting the evening take you,” he says, finding it relaxing.
Cumming shows no signs of slowing down — he’s headed to Canada to shoot a film, is working on a docuseries about people who’ve built homes on islands, is starring alongside Liam Neeson and Jessica Lange in the crime thriller Marlowe, is planning to write a novel and is shooting one more season of The Traitors — but aging is on his radar.
“We worship at the altar of youth, especially in this country,” he says. “We don’t value getting older. We’ve decided as a culture that aging is the worst thing that can happen to a person, when it’s something that is inevitable.”
“We don’t respect the process or our elders,” he says. “Getting older imparts some wisdom and getting to know oneself better. Why is it that we only associate beauty with youth? We lose sight of who we really are.”
But in his one-man show, he promises to make aging fun.
On his nights off, Cumming enjoys going to the theater to support friends, such as Katie Holmes in The Wanderers and fellow Tony Award winner Danny Burstein, and nights out at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
“My tastes are eclectic; I enjoy interesting, quirky or old-fashioned shows,” he says.
Coming to Boca, he says he hopes he doesn’t get COVID-19, as happened on his last visit.
Besides being entertaining and fun, he says the show is inspirational. “It will inspire you to seize the day. That’s what I aim to do each day.”
“I’m just very lucky to make my mark on the world doing something I love,” he says.
If you go
Alan Cumming Is Not Acting His Age comes to The Studio at Mizner Park, 201 Plaza Real, on Saturday, April 22 for two shows at 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. This event contains adult language or content. Tickets are $99 to $150 and are available at Ticketmaster. For more information and a link to purchase tickets, visit www.thestudioatmiznerpark.com.