No tote bags, please: Cumming and Shapiro go to the cabaret in Morristown

It sounded intriguing: a Scottish actor and a public radio journalist singing together on stage. What might that look like?

Surprisingly entertaining…all things considered.

This is Sunday’s verdict after 90 minutes of Alan Cumming and Ari Shapiro: Och & Oy! A Considered Cabaret to Mayo Performing Arts Center

Alan Cumming and Ari Shapiro at MPAC, April 24, 2022. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

cumming, 57 years old, starred on television in The good wife and won a Tony for a Broadway revival of Cabaret. Shapiro, 43, won awards covering Beat of Justice for NPR and now co-hosts All things Considered.

They shook things up in Morristown with a lively mix of anecdotes and duets.

Fueled by a quick bite to Hummus Republic on South Street, and topped with salty sonic bits you won’t taste at Cumming’s mysterious masterpiece intros or afternoon reports from Shapiro, the duo shared stories of coming out and funny stories from their respective same-sex marriages.

Cumming has also expressed support for Scottish independence and a visceral antipathy to pledge tote bags.

Alan Cumming, star of ‘The Good Wife’ TV series and Broadway revivals of ‘Cabaret’, at MPAC on April 24, 2022. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“There is a plastic island in the Atlantic Ocean. Soon there will be an island of tote bags,” he predicted, between takes for Club Cumming, an East Village bar born from his Cabaret changing room

Shapiro, who delivers daily doses of bad news on the radio, applauded viewers with the immortal words of drag queen Dina Martina:

“Somewhere on the horizon…is a deeper, darker valley.”

One of the funniest segments was Celebrity Roulette. Shapiro challenged Cumming to talk about his showbiz friends.

Alan Cumming, star of ‘The Good Wife’ TV series and Broadway revivals of ‘Cabaret’, at MPAC on April 24, 2022. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Cumming suggested hair extensions saved Kristin Chenoweth’s life when she injured herself while filming The good wife. In a mean aside, he recounted the time his exuberant TV co-star mistakenly sent congratulations and a bowl of muffins to a funeral.

Another hilarious story involved Sir Ian McKellen-Gandalf of the Lord of the Ringsdescribed by Cumming as a “14-year-old girl trapped in the body of an 82-year-old man” – insisting they visit a nudist beach in Vancouver during a break from filming.

Ari Shapiro, co-host of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” sings at MPAC, April 24, 2022. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

The biggest surprise of the evening, for the uninitiated who have not seen Shapiro’s guest appearances with pink martinis, it’s like he sings well.

Shapiro honed his vocal skills as an undergraduate in the a cappella whole Mixed company at Yale.

Growing up near Portland, Oregon, he was an avid Pink Martini fan. After a barbecue with the band, he was asked to record a song and then perform with the band. At the Hollywood Bowl. In front of 18,000 people.

“After that, nothing is ever scary again,” Shapiro said.

Alan Cumming and Ari Shapiro at MPAC, April 24, 2022. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Accompanied by the pianist James HarveyShapiro and Cumming paid a worthy tribute to Barbra Streisand (Ari) and Judy Garland (Alan), bringing the icons to life 1963 counterpoint duo of Happy days are back and Become happy.

Ari Shapiro, co-host of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” sings at MPAC, April 24, 2022. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Sleeveless, the pair produced perfect harmonies on Ben Folds The most fortunate, and on Taylor, the Latte Boy, a tune popularized by Chenoweth, among others.

The buttoned-up NPR commentator donned a dog collar from his teenage club days for their encore, an over-the-top take on Bonnie Tyler’s anthem, Total eclipse of the heart.

But Shapiro’s spin on Bette Midler laugh matters best captured the spirit of this cabaret.

Human minds must be
Lifted by a little levity.
So take that blues
And bounce them off the wall.
Keep your humor please,
‘Cause you don’t know in times like these that
Laughing matters above all.

Alan Cumming and Ari Shapiro at MPAC, April 24, 2022. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

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