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Alan Cumming covers Miley, Adele and Billy Joel for his Valentine’s Day show at Strathmore

Alan Cumming loves drinking, eyeliner and Miley Cyrus. (Steve Vaccariello)

You might know Alan Cumming from “Cabaret,” which earned him a Tony Award in 1998 for his creepily campy performance. Or from “The Good Wife,” for which he’s been nominated for three Emmys and two Golden Globes. Or from “Burlesque.” Or from “X-Men 2.” Or the “Spy Kids” films. Or from “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion.” And or and or and or and or.

You probably don’t know him from his cover version of Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb.”

“I like things people aren’t supposed to like,” says Cumming, who’s bringing his one-man show “Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs” to Strathmore for Valentine’s Day. “I think the message of [‘The Climb’] is so beautiful. And the theme of the show is about authenticity, being true to yourself; they’re all songs I feel like I agree with the message, and me singing them presents them in a different way.”

Aside from Miley, Cumming’s show include songs by Rufus Wainwright and Billy Joel and a mashup of Adele, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry called “Someone on the Edge of Firework,” but none of them are strict covers.

“It’s a more pared-down interpretation; we don’t have a huge production,” Cumming says. “I think I act the songs. When I start singing Avril Lavigne, people start tittering, of course. Then they listen to it and what it’s saying is really lovely.”

Between songs, Cumming delivers “stories about my hideous childhood” and other autobiographical tales. That balance, he says, is what takes the show beyond mere Karaoke with Alan.

“These songs aren’t necessarily suitable for me,” he says. “But I’m committing to them, I’m being truthful. It’s about authenticity, and how not being yourself is such a waste.”

Part of that, Cumming says, is rejecting the cynicism that derides anything that’s popular as cheesy.

“There’s a kind of slightly jaded age that we come to when people don’t want to seem foolish, to be overly emotional,” he says. “That’s the thing I fear I’m going to become like. It means you’re losing your authenticity, that childlike joy.”

Strathmore Music Center, 5301 Tuckerman Ln., Bethesda; Sun., Feb. 14, 8pm, sold out

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