Cumming Presents “Legal” Tour at Westhampton PAC

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Alan Cumming, who will perform at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on Friday, July 6.

Alan Cumming was sorting his fresh produce last Wednesday afternoon when he stumbled across an unexpected houseguest.

“Is that …” he murmured. “Is that … a little green worm? It is! What do we do with this? Hold on a moment.”

He politely excused himself, sussing out a game plan with his husband, illustrator Grant Shaffer.

“I’ll put it in your hand. Here you go, Grant,” Cumming said. “Just pop it in one of the pots, yeah? Is it still alive, is it wiggling? It’s alive, quick!”

The two men laughed together easily in the background.

The rogue insect had emigrated from the farmer’s market to their townhouse in the East Village — a fitting happenstance considering Cumming’s “Legal Immigrant” tour that he’ll bring to the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on Friday, July 6, as a Scottish-American himself.

The many faces of Alan Cumming will be on display in Westhampton on July 6.

“It’s, inadvertently, a very topical thing, and it always will be,” he said. “It’s so entrenched in our history. The damage that is being done right now will take a long time to repair. If you really think about immigration and how it’s altered so radically, it’s so hypocritical and self-hating, actually. It is topical, but it’s also for the long haul, as well. And I have an intimate understanding of it.”

The first time the actor visited the United States from his native Scotland in 1995, he was 30 years old, and he absolutely hated it. “I very quickly ran back,” he said. “L.A. was not my thing.”

Despite himself, Cumming would return a year later to work on a number of films before finally landing in New York, where he starred in the Broadway revival of “Cabaret” as Master of Ceremonies, a performance that not only won him a Tony Award, Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award, but showed him another side of the United States — geographically, socially, culturally, and otherwise.

“Everybody just talks about work all the time in L.A.,” he said. “It’s similar to what I think Hershey, Pennsylvania, must be like. I think everyone must just talk about chocolate all the time, and in L.A., everyone just talks about showbiz all the time. And it’s so boring. I just didn’t find it a very healthy environment,”

“I’ve never lived there when I wasn’t working there, and I think that’s really important. You should have a place to choose to live because you want to live there, and then hopefully your work can happen from there,” he said. “I love the life of New York and the energy and just walking down the street is an adventure. I like the fact that everyone’s so outspoken.”

In some ways, the candid nature of New York makes him feel nostalgic toward Scotland, where political and social activism are everyday norms, he said. Ten years ago, he became a dual citizen, inspired by Barack Obama’s presidential run and eager to vote.

“I felt like, you know, I was very vocal in my opinions,” he said, “so I had to start putting my money where my mouth is.”

“Legal Immigrant” has the same desired effect, bluntly taking on an array of issues, from women’s rights to aging — “talking, in quite graphic detail, about certain parts of my body,” Cumming said — to the eponymous cabaret title.

“We’ve done this already in some places where I challenged people, in Kansas and Colorado. I say things and I get boos, and I absolutely embrace that,” he explained. “I say, ‘Thank you,’ and sometimes I engage with them. If I’m gonna be frank and open, I would hope my audiences feel they could be, too. I’m horrified at the idea that Trump supporters are in my audience — I know they must be — so it’s a good reminder that there’s not just the bubble I live in, and that’s why I like going out in the world and experiencing Americans. That fuels me for what I talk about, as well.”

The night before, Cumming performed two back-to-back shows — the first at the Café Carlyle, and a midnight performance at Joe’s Pub, where he told a story from earlier in the evening.

“I was leaving the stage, and this lady with white spiky hair all dressed in white, and had a lot of work done — a swanky Upper East Side lady — said to me, ‘Oh you’re marvelous, you’re wonderful. I don’t agree with your philosophy, though,’” he said. “I just thought that was so great. It was actually the most damning thing you can say to someone, after me pouring my heart out for an hour and a half. I like that, though. I think that’s really great.”

With just two decades of experience in the United States, Cumming said he still considers himself an outsider. So when, four months ago, he read that “nation of immigrants” was removed from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website, it struck him particularly hard — and served as a catalyst for the entire cabaret.

“I’d noticed a huge change in the way immigrants were perceived and treated, and even just the term — whether you’re legal or illegal, it doesn’t really matter the prefix — ‘immigrant’ itself has a negative connotation there, and I just find that so fascinating,” he said. “How clever those people are, who can rewrite the narrative of a whole slew of people who have actually built this country — who are them — and that’s what I think is disturbing about it.

“We are allimmigrants, or descended from one,” he continued. “And for the president, who’s the son of an immigrant and the husband of an immigrant, to have such a negative rhetoric around the subject, is just crazy. When I saw that article and the rewriting of history, that’s what pushed me over the edge, as it were.”

He took a deep breath. Offstage, Cumming decompresses the best he can in the East Village — living in a townhouse he says he still can’t believe he has, with a garden that reminds him of the first place he called home.

A place the little green worm will now live.

“It’s going in a nice terracotta pot. It has a new life,” he said. “Well done, you.”

Alan Cumming will present his “Legal Immigrant Tour” on Friday, July 6, at 8 p.m. at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, located at 76 Main Street in Westhampton Beach. Tickets range from $145 to $195. For more information, please call (631) 288-1500 or visit whbpac.org.

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