Publication: Broadway World (UK)
Date: Jan. 31, 2020  

★★★★★ 5 stars! “The dynamic pairing of Dietrich and UTE LEMPER make ‘Rendezvous with Marlene’ an unforgettable evening: stylish, graceful, heart-warming and powerful. An event not to be missed”
– Broadwayworld

Rendezvous with Marlene started with a letter. A young Ute Lemper explodes onto the French stage playing Sally Bowles in Cabaret, and the next day the French press proclaimed her “La nouvelle Marlene!”.

Filled with deference, and more than a sprinkling of modesty, Lemper wrote a letter to the ailing and reclusive Dietrich to apologise for the renewed attention – and, to Lemper’s humble mind, the unfair comparisons. A month later, Dietrich phoned an unsuspecting Lemper and, from there, a three-hour conversation unfolded into a lifetime of respect, mirroring careers with a backdrop of political unrest, and an unflinching passion for performance.

For those familiar with Ute Lemper, there is the familiar joy with which she performs – with the added bonus of a beautifully constructed narrative based around this landmark phone call chronicling Dietrich’s story. Opening to the strains of “Falling in Love Again”, and navigating through Dietrich canon and added material from Jacques Brel, Burt Bacharach and most poignantly Bob Dylan, Lemper peppers the piece with anecdotes as Marlene. Jean Cocteau once said of Marlene Dietrich that her name, “starts with a caress and ends with a horse whip”. With this in mind, a rollercoaster ride is guaranteed.

Never domestic or throwaway, Dietrich’s conversations are always high stakes. From a telephone call to Mikhail (Gorbachev), just chewing the fat over Perestroika and his relationship with Ronald (Regan), through to a bold return to her home country after being shunned for supporting the Americans during World War Two, Marlene Dietrich’s life story could add up to several full-length shows. Here, Lemper chooses the landmark events of Dietrich’s life, from leaving her homeland, to joining the Americans on the front line through to living a reclusive life in Paris.

This isn’t simply an evening about an incredible woman. It isn’t just an evening of beautiful songs performed by a world-class performer. This is a history lesson – a tale of division followed by unification. Opening on the eve of the United Kingdom leaving Europe, there is something bittersweet and powerful hearing Lemper sing Dylan’s classic “Blowing in the Wind”.

The director Billy Wilder said Marlene Dietrich was “a heck of a guy to hang out with”. The dynamic pairing of Dietrich and Lemper make Rendezvous with Marlene an unforgettable evening: stylish, graceful, heart-warming and powerful. Beautifully complemented by Vana Gierig (piano), Romain Lecuyer (bass), Cyril Garac (violin) and Matthais Daneck (drums), this is an event not to be missed.

Rendezvous with Marlene tours the UK until 8 February. Full dates here

Click here to read the article on Broadway World

Singer and actress Ute Lemper pictured in London    CREDIT: Andrew Crowley

Publication: The Daily Telegraph
Date: 31 January 2020

Ute Lemper: ‘I’m definitely a free spirit… I have tried sexual encounters with women’

The screen and stage star reveals that she has more in common with Marlene Dietrich than meets the eye

If you’re channelling the great Marlene Dietrich in your new one-woman show, it’s perhaps not surprising if you and your heroine share everything from German genes and camera-loving Cubist cheekbones to… a certain free-spirited sexual history. And so it proves with the West End and Broadway star Ute Lemper, who has been compared to Dietrich on and off throughout an international career over nearly four decades as an actress and singer-songwriter. Slinky glamourpuss looks? Check. Seductively husky vocals? Check. Outspoken foe of fascism, especially Nazism and neo-Nazism? Check. Bisexuality?

Well, let’s say there’s an intriguing parallel, as Lemper goes on to reveal, between these two women born 62 years apart. I’m meeting Lemper in London to talk about Rendezvous With Marlene, which is now touring UK theatres. Mixing legendary Dietrich songs and stories with her own life, it’s based on a three-hour encounter by telephone with the octogenarian Dietrich when the latter was a semi-recluse living in Paris in 1988, while Lemper was playing Sally Bowles in a French production of Cabaret. She had sent Dietrich a fan letter in the form of a postcard and was astonished when the octogenarian diva, who died four years later at the age of 90, rang her back.

The star of  such iconic films as The Blue Angel, Shanghai Express and Destry Rides Again was married to assistant film director Rudolf Sieber, by whom she had her only child, Maria. But Dietrich was openly bisexual and had many affairs with female performers, Edith Piaf and Mae West among them, as well as with such leading men as James Stewart, Gary Cooper and John Wayne. None of which put an end to her 53-year marriage, which seems to have to be an open one – because Sieber himself had a mistress.

“I’m definitely a free spirit like Marlene; I have tried sexual encounters with women,” Lemper says without hesitation. “But I did not have a lesbian relationship with any of them – although I would say never say never!” Men, she says, often resent her strength “because then you can take decisions, protect yourself, establish a life you want to live  – you are not a victim.”

The rebellious daughter of a Munster bank manager and a hausfrau who dabbled in amateur opera-singing, Lemper first made her name at 24 for that Sally Bowles performance in Paris, winning a Moliere, the French equivalent of an Olivier. She went on to bag an Olivier and an American Theatre Award for playing murderess Velma Kelly in the acclaimed revival of Chicago in the West End and on Broadway in the late Nineties. She has worked with Woody Allen, Robert Altman and Daniel Craig, very nearly becoming a Bond girl (sorry, woman) in Goldeneye until she turned down the role eventually played by Famke Janssen.

‘It was frustrating to my two husbands that they could not be on the same level’ CREDIT: Luciano Viti/Getty
But after making her name in other people’s shows, Lemper is now creating her own work: Songs For Eternity – a collection of music from Holocaust survivors, Forever: The Love Poems Of Pablo Neruda and now Rendezvous With Marlene, which she hopes will eventually reach the West End and beyond. The epitome of the crossover artist who can seamlessly move from jazz and rock to pop and her speciality, the Threepenny Opera composer Kurt Weill, Lemper’s success in concert halls, recording studios (more than 30 albums), theatres and vast stadiums – including the Olympic one in Munich in 1989 – proved so lucrative that it paid for her two older children’s university education.

That has brought its own domestic challenges, however. “To be successful, the breadwinner, to be in charge – I would say that the man has a bit more of a problem to accept that reality. It was frustrating to my two husbands that they could not be on the same level… Once the competition starts, there are unhealthy feelings in a relationship.”

She lives on Manhattan’s Upper West Side with her second husband, musician Todd Turkisher, and their two children Julian, 14, and Jonas, eight, to whom she gave birth at 48, with frequent visits from the two older ones – Max, 25, and Stella, 23 – by her first marriage to former comedian and drama teacher David Tabatsky.

One eyebrow-raising solution, she reveals, to making her relationship with Turkisher work over 20 years so far is to “go out with other men at night. I’ve learned that it’s important to invite other strong sources into your life to support you. So when I go to the movies, it’s not always with my husband… I have chosen to do this just to take the weight off the marriage, you know? We don’t always have to be together and watch each other and control each other. I enjoy very much other relationships.” When I ask if that means physical, she laughs and says, “Maybe. But too much information!”

The directness of New Yorkers has proved a natural fit for this citizen of the world, who grew up with a mother and father that were brought up to shake hands with their own ultra-formal parents every morning and night instead of embracing them. “German women are pretty direct too, they have a natural self-confidence,” she concedes, adding “that’s true of a lot of women these days. But I always thought German men were a bit bureaucratic, though I haven’t had one [as a partner] for a very long time.

“I would have to work very hard to be with a German man: it’s hard to relax a bit, the sense of humour lacks a little bit. My first and second husband are both New York Jewish men who talk a lot; they’re very much alike. I have to ask for some silence in the house,” she adds with another laugh. As a post-war German born in 1963, she still broods over her country’s dark mid-20th-century history. “It does make you wonder what it is in the German character that the population went along with Nazism,” she says in her forthright way.

“If you look at Germany now, it’s an incredible country: they are good people, they march in support of immigrants, they’re exemplary. But the way earlier on that the people followed those Nazi rules – was it just the failure of the Weimar Republic or is there something authoritarian in their character to have that obedience to authority?” That’s why, with the resurgence of the far right among nationalist movements in Europe, Lemper feels the need to tell Dietrich’s multi-faceted story of courage and defiance in her public and private life.

After she was brought to Hollywood by her mentor Josef Von Sternberg in 1930, Dietrich established a fund with the director Billy Wilder and other exiles to help refugees escape from Nazi Germany. In 1947 she was awarded the American Medal of Freedom for her work in entertaining Allied troops overseas during the war as well as France’s Legion D’Honneur.

As Lemper says, “Germany had lost its conscience, its soul, at that time, which is terrifying for a civilised country. Marlene was its expatriate conscience, which was why she should be a role model for so many of us. “Like her, I’m very independent and freedom-loving. Problematic judgement is of no interest to me. I just keep going.”

  Ute Lemper: Rendezvous With Marlene tours until February 8. For details,

Click here to read this article on The Telegraph

Publication: GScene
Date: February 2020 Issue
By: Brian Butler

International performer Ute Lemper has had a career-long love of the songs of the legendary Marlene Dietrich. She tells Brian Butler about her new Marlene show – due in Hove in February.

It was 1987 in Paris and a young performer called Ute had just opened to rave reviews as Sally Bowles in the stage musical Cabaret. “On my first night I saw Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey in the front row.” She won the Moliere Award and the media called her the new Liza … the new Marlene, “and I thought oh my God!”

Marlene was then 87, a recluse in her Paris apartment. The young Ute wrote to the ageing performer, apologising for the media hype and the comparison to Marlene. What happened then was the basis of Ute’s new show, Rendezvous with Marlene.

“She rang me and we had a three hour phone conversation about Marlene’s career, her love affairs, her songs. I put it away in my memory and rarely talked about it.”

Fast forward 32 years and Ute decided it was ti me to revisit that conversation and make something of it. “I decided it was ti me to give her life again, mixed with my own choices and my own personal experiences. So it’s a dialogue between the two of us, which Marlene takes over in a kind of time warp of both of us. I had to grow to a certain age to capture her bitterness, her craziness; to bring her story back and tell people today how important she was.”

The rise of nationalistic movements, particularly in Germany – new forms of racism against immigrants, along with new views of sexuality, mean it’s the right time, according to Ute.

I wondered how much of the 32-year-old conversation Ute remembered? “I remember some expressions she used; her bitterness about her rejection by her homeland as a traitor in post-war Germany and I’ve done a lot of research too. I don’t imitate her; she had a very different musicality, a very different way of singing, almost speaking some songs.”

“She was a woman of the future, in the 1920s in the 1930s and the 1960s, and she still is today. She broke the rules. She hated authority and autocrats. She was against male domination of society. She was androgynous, and masculine in her style. She was very much the boss and absolutely sexy. It was a new aesthetic at the time.”

“Marlene didn’t speak a lot about her bisexuality, her polygamous affairs. Virtually everyone she worked with, men or women, she slept with. She was equally attracted to both sexes.”

Her banishment from Germany lasted many years. When she appeared there in the 1960s she was shouted at and there were bomb threats to stop her concerts. Ute says: “She told me she wanted to go back to Germany one more time – in her coffin; and she did.”

The song Lily Marlene has a great significance in Dietrich’s career. She sang it to the Allied troops on the front line in WW2 and it was broadcast via military radio all over Europe. It’s said she spent longer at the front than Allied Supreme Commander General Eisenhower. The Nazis hated her for it.

In Berlin in 1992 Ute was due to recreate Marlene’s famous role in the Blue Angel, where she sings her first hit Falling In Love Again. “Ten days before our first night Marlene died. I went to her funeral, it was threatened by neo-Nazi demonstrations. Her memorial event in Paris was attended by huge crowds; in Berlin her funeral was attended by under 100.”

But in 2001, for what would have been her 100th birthday celebrations in Berlin, she was finally rehabilitated. Indeed Ute has performed this new Marlene show in the city, doing the whole thing in German. She’s also performed it entirely in French and English.

The show is constantly progressing – it’s been known for Ute to change its format mid­performa nee, and she now plans a fully-staged version destined for a continuous run in a theatre – first in New York and then hopefully in London. “I may add another performer to play various roles and dance,” she tells me. Ute has straddled many forms of music and her stage appearances have been heavily dominated by solo work. “I’ve done 30 years of it, but I also love the family feel of ensemble theatre.”

The song choice for this show varies, depending on the country she’s appearing in – more Brel and Piaf in France; more Weill in Germany; more American songs when she’s performing in English.

“The show is deeply tragic, but also comic – after all she claimed to have had 50,000 lovers! And I enjoy channel.ling the pain of her life. It’s not a romantic style. I aim to get to the core of her life.”

MORE INFO 9 UTE LEMPER: RENDEZVOUS WITH MARLENE is on tour and at The Old Market, Hove, February 3, 2020.

Click here for a pdf of the article

Photo: Russ Rowland

Publication: Shoreham Herald and also Worthing Herald
Date: 29 January, 2020
By: Phil Hewitt

When Marlene Dietrich phoned a young singer out of the blue, she stayed on the line for an unforgettable three hours…

More than 30 years later, West End and Broadway star Ute Lemper reveals all in Ute Lemper: Rendezvous With Marlene. The show plays Guildford’s Electric Theatre on Sunday, February 2; and Hove’s Old Market on Monday, February 3.

For Ute, it’s a chance to celebrate an artist hugely important to her: “I think I am really most attracted to her persona. She was a woman of the future a long time ago, and she is still a woman of the future today. She was incredibly assertive, incredibly free-spirited, incredibly emancipated – and all at a time when it was incredibly difficult for a woman to be all of those things. You think of those days of the Weimar Republic in the 1920s, and she said that was the first time she wore trousers – and she said she had been wearing them ever since, metaphorically.

“She had a good education and a good grip on her life. She had a good understanding of the political life around her, and she was very opinionated. It was natural for her to speak out, and she did. She was part of the Weimar Republic culture that she was born into. And when she went to Hollywood, she never played the cutesy romantic submissive girl. She knew what was right for her. She was very emancipated in her marriage too. She had many, many lovers, women and men. She was bisexual. She had no moralistic restraint or restrictions.”

She left Germany for America in the late 1920s, before the Nazis came to power. It was the new career opportunities which drew her: “But afterwards, she hosted many, many immigrants in the US, Jewish immigrants. She even had a plot to assassinate Hitler in the 1930s. She thought about going back to Germany, not as the movie star, but to meet Hitler and to kill him. Instead, she renounced her German citizenship and became a soldier.”

And this was the remarkable woman Ute spoke to: “I was Sally Bowles in the Paris production of Cabaret and it was my career breakthrough. It was 1987 and my name was in the press, and people were writing that I was the new Marlene Dietrich about me, 24 years old. I thought ‘Oh my God!’ I had a natural strength and was a bit emancipated, but she was this massive Hollywood movie star and I had a theatre career.

“But my name was in the press and so I decided to write Marlene Dietrich a letter, basically apologising for the comparison and to express my admiration. And she called me back a month later.

“She found me in my little hotel. Through her network of confidantes, she found me. The receptionist told me ‘Miss Marlene Dietrich’ called you. I thought it was a joke, but the receptionist said she would be calling back and she did.

“And we had three hours on the phone. I was very young. I didn’t write anything down, but I do remember some key elements, some key parts, some key phrases.

“She loved the phone. She didn’t leave the house. She was a recluse. She didn’t want people to see her aged face. There are no images of her as an older person. She spent a lot of time in her apartment talking on the phone. She loved to talk on the phone.

“And I remember she was rather motherly. She was rather motherly when she took care of Edith Piaf, and with me she was rather motherly too. She was advising me on certain things, staying out of the press, not giving away your secrets. But the key thing was her being rejected by Germany. She came back 15 years after the war doing a concert tour around the world, and she went to Germany finally and was rejected by the Germans. There were bomb threats to the theatre. There were people screaming that they couldn’t believe that she had fought for the Americans during the war. They treated her as a traitor.”

Dietrich vowed that the only way she would go back to Germany would be in a coffin to be buried next to her mother in Berlin, and that’s what happened.

But Ute well remembers the sadness, the bitterness: “It is a sad story, a tragic story in some ways. She said that she took the only reasonable decision which was to fight against the Nazis…”

Click here to read the article on Shoreham Herald
Click here to read the article on Worthing Herald

Publication: Gloria
Date: 29 January, 2020

Photo: Russ Rowland

Svjetska glazbena i glumačka senzacija – Ute Lemper stiže u Off ciklus Zagrebačke filharmonije i najavljuje nezaboravnu večer Rendezvous with Marlene koju jednostavno morate doživjeti!

Ako postoji jedna riječ koja bi istinski svjetsku umjetnicu kao što je Ute Lemper mogla opisati, onda je to jednostavno – diva!

Nemoguće je pobrojati što je sve napravila u kazalištu, na koncertnoj sceni, u filmu… Poharala je i londonski West End i newyorški Broadway. Ostvarila je najveće uloge i gostovala na najvećim pozornicama svijeta.

Nominirana je za američki Grammy, a osvojila je dvije najprestižnije nagrade koje je u kazalištu uopće moguće poželjeti – Oliviera u Londonu i Molièrea u Parizu.

Već trideset godina razvija blistavu karijeru s kojom se može pohvaliti malo koji umjetnik. I uz sve to majka je četvero djece!

Realizirala je i niz sjajnih autorskih projekata u čast Weillu, Edith Piaf, Nerudi, Piazzolli, Coelhu…

Posljednji takav posvetila je velikoj filmskoj divi Marlene Dietrich s kojom je često uspoređuju, a upravo taj projekt u petak 14. veljače predstavit će i u Off ciklusu Zagrebačke filharmonije u Koncertnoj dvorani Vatroslava Lisinskog s početkom u 19:30 sati!

Program intrigantnoga naslova Rendezvous with Marlene temelji se na telefonskom razgovoru koji su dvije umjetnice vodile pred tridesetak godina, kada su obje živjele u Parizu. Ute pjeva najljepše pjesme koje je pjevala i Marlene te priča priču njezina, ali i svojega vlastitog života.

Zagreb je samo jedna od postaja velike svjetske turneje, koja među ostalim uključuje i Berlin, Pariz te Milano. Doživite jedinstveni spoj najljepših pjesama koje je pjevala Marlene Dietrich i uživajte u čaroliji glazbe i glume u interpretaciji svjetske dive – Ute Lemper!

Click here to read the article online on Gloria