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Alan Cumming joins gay chorus for holiday concert at Hard Rock Live

Alan Cumming, a star who has shined on Broadway, in the movies and on television, will share the stage with the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida for a Christmas concert in Hollywood.

“Holidays at Hard Rock Live” will take place Sunday, Dec. 17 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

“We have always embraced female artists in the past,” says Michael Valdez, president of the chorus. “We thought maybe it should be a male this time. Not a lot of people pop up that might be of interest to our community. Mr. Cumming is an interesting person that the community has been watching since he was in ‘Cabaret.’ ”

Aside from a Tony-winning role as the Emcee in the revival of “Cabaret,” Cumming has appeared in CBS’ “The Good Wife” and on the big screen in “X-Men 2” and the “Spy Kids” trilogy. Currently, he is filming a new series for CBS titled “Instinct,” which is why his schedule would only allow for an interview via email.

What do you plan to sing at this concert?

I’m going to be singing a selection of things. A couple songs from my “Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs” show and then a few Christmassy ones. Some you might have heard of, some you might have not. I don’t want to spoil the surprise. An eclectic range, just like myself.

Describe the challenge of performing with the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida with your busy schedule and no rehearsal?

I think part of the fun is going and singing with people I’ve never met. … You kind of meet them the night before, and it’s fun and exciting. You have to have balls of steel a little bit to do it. I kind of wanted to do it, because I’ve been shooting this TV show for five or six months, and I thought it would be lovely to do a complete gear change and go and sing these songs. I think it is important to keep yourself alive. Although it is challenging and slightly scary at this juncture, I’m looking forward to it.

Having been at one of your concerts, I remember well how the evening included several of your backstage stories. Will you repeat that for this performance and, if so, do you have any topics in mind?

No, it’s not really a show about my stories. I’ll chat a little bit to the audience, but mostly it’s a concert, and I’m just guesting. I’ll be keeping my stories, for the most part, on the back burner, and letting the Gay Men’s Chorus shine.

Tell us a little about the TV series “Instinct” you are shooting for CBS?

“Instinct” is a TV show on CBS premiering on Sunday, March 11 at 8 p.m. It’s about this man, called Dylan Reinhardt, who is a professor with idiosyncratic teaching methods, who is then recruited by the NYPD to help catch this serial killer who is leaving clues at murders based on Dylan’s book. Then, it transpires that Dylan is a former CIA spy, so he is literally going back into the field. He is this bundle of contradictions. He drives a motorbike, but he’s slightly a futty-dutty professor. He’s gay. He has a husband who runs a bar. He left the CIA for love, but now he’s being drawn back into the field with NYPD. He has a partner at NYPD, Lizzie Needham, who is played by Bojana Novakovic. It’s really great. It is a really rich, multilayered character for me to do, and also it is the first-ever network drama on American television to have a gay character in the leading role. That is pretty exciting, but also quite galling. That was something that I was drawn to. It is based on a novel by James Patterson.

What was the spark that led to your latest book, “The Adventures of Honey and Leon?”

I know the exact moment that the idea of us pretending the dogs followed us around the world started. That was in Kuala Lumpur. We were in Kuala Lumpur by this pool, and I said to Grant [Shaffer, Cumming’s husband], “We’re missing the dogs,” and he said, “Oh, they’re here! They’ve followed us. Honey is wearing a sombrero and she’s around behind that palm tree. Leon’s eating tortilla chips with a pair of sunglasses on.” We just started to pretend that our dogs followed us wherever we went. So that was the kind of germ of the idea that became the book. We talked about it for years, but when they died we decided we would really get down to it. The book is about two dads who have two dogs who live in the East Village. The dogs look remarkably like Honey and Leon, our real dogs, and the dads look remarkably like us. It’s a story of loyalty and people traveling to be together, and also allowing people to be who they’re meant to be. The dogs like when we come home because they can protect us, and they don’t like when we go away because they can’t. In a way, the dads allow the dogs to be who they want to be.

How are things going with Club Cumming and did you ever think you’d be running a nightclub (or is this a longtime dream come true)?

Club Cumming is going amazingly well. I’m so happy it exists. It’s also a really big artistic achievement for me. I set out to make something and talked about the spirit that I wanted the bar to have, and it’s happened. I think that’s a lot to do with Daniel Nardicio, my partner who programs it. It’s an interesting thing, you know we have like live performances, a knitting thing, we’ve got all these different DJs. Really crazy things happen at the bar all night long. It brings so many different types of people and has a real sense of community. Everyone is kind and friendly, and that was the message that I put out. I wanted a place where people would come and there would be no judgments and no rules, except kindness and inclusivity. I love the fact that so many people say to me, “It’s kind of like a bar that I remember in Old New York.” These young kids are going, “Thanks for giving us a queer performance space where we can feel comfortable.” And we get these ladies who come for the knitting night and then they stay. It’s just a really great melting pot, and it is exactly what I had hoped it would be and it’s exactly what I think of when I think of New York in its condensed form. And also it’s great to have a bar of your own. If there is a line at the bar, I can go behind the bar and get myself a drink.

Your fans admire you for your outspoken advocacy. I remember well at “Alan Cumming: Uncut” at Parker Playhouse in 2015 you spoke passionately about circumcision, which left the theater doyennes in the audience gobsmacked (much to the amusement of me and my husband). Any plans on sharing any of your activism this time around?

I don’t plan on talking about circumcision on Sunday night, but you know, who knows? You know, I’m my own man and I don’t rule out the fact that I might say something that has an element of activism. I don’t go out to bang anyone’s drum, but just talking and being in the world and being the person I am and thinking the things I think will probably lead to some points being made. I think it’s hard to not do that, living in America today. I’m here to celebrate the Gay Men’s Chorus and have fun and to celebrate the holidays. Although I’m an atheist, I think Jesus was a really great guy and much maligned by present-day American Christians, actually, in terms of the way his message has been interpreted.

“Holidays at Hard Rock Live” will begin 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17, at 1 Seminole Way, in Hollywood. Tickets cost $35-$150. To order, call 1-800-745-3000 or go to MyHRL.com.

rhagwood@southflorida.com

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