Sunday, 1 July 2012

Alan Cumming – "Urban Secrets" and "Macbeth" updates


Tony-award winning actor Alan Cumming presents the new travelogue series, Urban Secrets, in which he takes viewers around the UK, revealing hidden treasures nestling in and around our great cities. Best-known for his roles on the big and small screen in X2 and The Good Wife, Alan received an OBE in 2009. He is married to Grant Shaffer and they live in New York with their dogs.

What appealed to you about Urban Secrets?
Over the last few years, I’ve done some documentaries and some presenting work, although never a full series. But I’ve really enjoyed them. I wanted to do this because my favourite hobby is to wander around places, finding out secret things.

Had you visited all of the cities in the series before you started filming?
Yes, in varying degrees. I think I’d done a play in Bristol, and only been to Liverpool once before — and that was to film This Morning With Richard And Judy, when I was promoting The High Life, a thousand years ago!

Some of the places you visit, aren’t open to the public, are they?
Whenever there’s something that you can’t do, I will say so. It is kind of mean. Like today, I got to go up to the top of this steeple in the middle of Glasgow. It’s the most fun getting to do things that you think the public can’t do. I know that’s mean, but there you are. 

Maybe if enough people show an interest in seeing something, these places may be opened up to everyone?
Exactly. And again in Glasgow, there’s this old music hall, where you can go, but they’re trying to get more money to open more of it up and it was really good to be able to give them a little shout out.

What else can viewers expect to see during the series?
I visit a toy museum in Brighton. It was such a laugh. I loved it. A lot of things were like a little boy’s dream come true. I got to sit in the middle of a massive train set. I also got to go into the sewers. I loved the sewers. Oh my god, it was such fun. And I got to work a real crane at the docks in Bristol. And people like Danny Baker, Samantha Bond, Sharon Corr, Billy Boyd and Sarah Millican join me on my journey too. She’s absolutely hilarious. 

What was the most surprising thing you learnt while making the series?
How beautiful Liverpool was, and how grand the architecture is. I had no idea it was such a grand city.

You’re clearly passionate about the places you’ve visited. Do you think the series could return — with you visiting world cities?
I don’t know. Maybe it could. I think it’s an interesting thing to go to a city, even if you don’t know it at all, and not do the obvious things. I think that’s something people really appreciate, because we’re all fed the common PR stuff about places to go. I quite like that idea. I’d not thought about it before.

Have you got a favourite city?
Well, my favourite place in the whole wide world is New York, where I live. I know there are loads of secret little crazy places there. There’s one right near where I live — an old theatre called the Hollywood Theater and you can see into it. I found something online about it. You can’t get into it because it’s all enclosed by shops. But it used to be this beautiful theatre. It’s all derelict now and they use it as a storeroom. But lots of photos have been taken of it and there’s a campaign to try to restore it. I also love the New York subway. There’s beautiful tiling in some of the stations that are no longer used. I just love New York. 

Do you get recognised more there or in the UK?
I don’t know. It’s so hard to tell. It happens pretty much all the time.

If someone had said to you all those years ago when you were in The High Life that you’re going to be huge, would you have believed them?
(Laughs). I don’t know. If somebody said you’re going to be huge, I’d have said, 'How dare you! I am huge.' (Laughs) No, I wouldn’t have, really. I’ve not set myself any goals. I’ve tumbled through it, and I think people have responded to that. So any level of notoriety has just been another thing I’ve had to deal with. I never expected it, and I don’t ever expect it.






Alan Cumming to Host Urban Secrets
Emmy-nominee Alan Cumming will host Urban Secrets, a new eight-part series that will take viewers on a stunning journey the length and breadth of the country, visiting a number of Britain's most influential urban areas.

Cumming, best known for his role in The Good Wife, is bursting with enthusiasm as he takes to a new city in each episode, revealing incredible stories that will entertain and surprise. Throughout the series, Cumming will be exploring the different factors which make each city world renowned.

As Cumming guides viewers through the historical evolution of each destination, he will be joined by some famous names from the city, along with local experts who will offer their views and insights on what gives their city its unique character and spirit.

Celia Taylor, Head of Features and Factual, Sky commented: “Urban Secrets will offer an intriguing insight into not only the iconic landmarks of the various cities, but also the hidden gems that lie off the tourist trail; it is a refreshing stretch of the legs for Sky Atlantic.”
Sky Atlantic HD: Thu 05 Jul, 8PM









Alan Cumming's one-man Macbeth, directed by Once's Tony-winning director John Tiffany and Andrew Goldberg, opens the 2012 Lincoln Center Festival on Thursday 5 July. 

The multimedia production is set in a psychiatric unit, equipped with creepy closed-circuit cameras, and centers around a patient retelling the story through a hyperactive delusion. 

Macbeth runs through July 14, Rose Theatre. Info/tickets - Lincoln Centre Festival
 
Read more at Playbill.com

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