Publication: Broadway World
By: Stephen Mosher
Date: December 4, 2020

My heart was racing while I watched the Ute Lemper film RENDEZVOUS WITH MARLENE. I was only five minutes into the two-hour program and already I knew that I was in for one of the great rides of entertainment. It was clear that Ms. Lemper had a vision when she devised this show, and that her vision was going to be carried out and carried through: this was going to be a story personal, engaging, and thrilling. Only five minutes in, I knew this.

I was not mistaken.

An iconic performer of great stature, Ute Lemper has proven time and again that she can do anything; there is a role that she has played for a long time, though – that of an actress constantly compared to a legend. From early on in her trajectory, Ms. Lemper has been compared to Marlene Dietrich – obviously, the fact that they are both strong German women with blonde hair, high cheekbones, and definitive performing styles plays into that, but it cannot be denied that there is a spiritual kinship between the two women. As it happens, those comparisons from early on in Lemper’s career led her to pen an embarrassed note to Dietrich, apologizing for the media attention on their similarities; that postcard led the legend to phone the up-and-comer and three hours later Ute Lemper had an amazing story to tell… thirty-five years later.

The number of biographies of Marlene Dietrich is overwhelming. With books, plays, nightclub acts, documentaries, and recordings, there is certainly plenty that has been said about the legend in the name of telling her story. What sets the magnificent Rendezvous With Marlene apart is that this is actually Ute Lemper‘s story. Certainly, Marlene’s history plays into the show significantly, with Lemper acting as Marlene in the storytelling, but what Lemper shows the audience is that which made Marlene Dietrich important to her. These aren’t just Marlene’s words and they aren’t just Ute’s words – these are the words of both women, the story of both artists, the life of both ground-breakers. Much of Lemper’s life as a woman and as an entertainer has been informed by the path lit by Dietrich before her, and seeing how those lives come together in one two-hour play caught on film is as glorious a part of the history of show business as either Dietrich or Lemper could have hoped for.

Singing the songs made famous by Dietrich (as Marlene and as Ute), telling classic tales as well as stories Marlene shared directly with her on that memorable day in 1988, Ms. Lemper brings the theatrical journey to the intersection where the lives of two extraordinary women met and became parallel lines. Providing a wealth of opportunities both musical and thespianic, this opera is one befitting both of the women to whom it pays homage. This is not just theater supreme by an artist well-versed in the act of performing – this is theatrical writing with incomparable structure and protracted vocabulary. Rendezvous With Marlene is a new piece of theater ready-made for any actor of substance and talent to take and make their own, though they would have to be prepared to take on the roles of not one but two great ladies of show business. Ute Lemper has given a gift to the actors of the world, a world where a one-person show can become an immediate source of income, any time that the actor would wish it. One can’t help but think that the fiercely independent Marlene Dietrich would have approved.

Rendezvous With Marlene is intensely epic theater that is contained in one woman and the nightclub she is playing, and audiences given a chance to see the show live should do just that. This, though, is a film of a theater piece, created to conform to the time in which we find ourselves, a time when live performance is not possible. If there is a happy byproduct to the show business shutdown, the film Rendezvous With Marlene is it – or at least it is one of them. No mere video capture of a club act is this, this is a breathtaking example of fine filmmaking for which Evan Quinn is given credit as director and editor (in collaboration with Ute Lemper). Had the show played Club Cumming, where the film was shot, one wonders where the audience would have sat. The club is intimate, at best, cozy, at least, and crowded, at worst; Lemper and her extraordinary band of musicians (hot bartenders, too!) make use of the entire space for the film, with the diva moving about the playing area freely, as any prudent actress would. Lemper leaves no amount of square footage unoccupied in her quest to bring to life her show, and director of photography Scott Mason is with her every step of the way, making sure that the documentation of this show so personal is precise and perfect. Lemper and co-producers Alan Cumming and Daniel Nardicio would do well to slap this film onto DVD discs and sell them or get it sold to a streaming platform like Broadway HD so that audiences around the world can luxuriate in repeated viewings of their scrupulous cinematic storytelling. Just as Rendezvous With Marlene brings together Misses Dietrich and Lemper into one story, the film that has been created in the time of coronavirus has brought together the art forms of cinema, theater, and Kabaret in a divinely decadent (yeah, I did it) film representing such fascinating and important parts of history, both show business and world, that it becomes one of the most exciting and important pieces of performing arts to come out of the year 2020.

Ute Lemper Rendezvous With Marlene has one more live stream on Saturday, December 5, 2020, at 2:00 pm (EST) and December 15, 2020, at 8:00 pm (EST). Tickets may be purchased here.

Click here to read the review on Broadway World

Publication: Theater Life
By: Paulanne Simmons
Date: November 29, 2020

In 1988, when Ute Lemper received the Molière Award for her performance as Sally Bowles in Cabaret in Paris, she was certainly very happy. But what really amazed and delighted the German-born actress, was when she was compared to the legendary Marlene Dietrich. As Dietrich was also living Paris at the time, Lemper sent her a postcard addressed simply to Dietrich at Avenue Montaigne. Not long afterwards she got a phone call.

The phone conversation lasted three hours. During that time, Dietrich, who was 89, looked back on her life: her rise from a Weimar cabaret performer to a Hollywood star, her many love affairs, her work as an American soldier during World War II, her triumphs and her disappointments. Thirty years later, Lemper turned that conversation into her “personal homage to that great lady.”

Ute Lemper: Rendezvous with Marlene recreates that phone conversation in cabaret form, allowing the audience to see Dietrich much as she must have appeared in those early Weimar days. Lemper plays herself only briefly, to set the scene. The rest is pure Dietrich, with Lemper singing many of the star’s most beloved songs.

Lemper is a gifted actress with a powerful and emotive voice. She mimics all of Dietrich’s marvelous ticks and she has the sexy legs that are de rigueur in a show about the diva. Like Dietrich, she speaks and sings in English, German and French. She also reproduces Dietrich’s husky, sexy voice, and then some. Lemper has a vocal range that far exceeds anything Dietrich could have ever dreamed of.

In a slinky dress, sporting one of Dietrich’s signature top hats or throwing a boa over her shoulders, Lemper belts, croons or purrs a repertoire that includes Leonello Casucci’s “Just A Gigolo,” Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer’s “One For My Baby,” Jacques Brel’s “Ne me quitte pas” and Friedrich Hollaender’s “They Call Me Naughty Lola.” But perhaps the most touching moments are when Lemper sings Pete Seeger’s mournful “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” or the song soldiers on both sides during World War II made their own, Norbert Schulze and Hans Leip’s “Lili Marleen.”

Ute Lemper: Rendezvous with Marlene began as a touring cabaret show. Now, after being filmed at Club Cumming in New York, Alan Cumming and Ute Lemper are streaming the show online. This allows them to take advantage of all the cinematic effects that cannot be realized in a live performance: fades, montage, smooth scene shifts.

As Lemper tells us many times during the show, Dietrich was a woman who lived every day to the fullest, while at the same placing one foot in the future. She was a sexually liberated woman, with an open marriage and affairs with men and women, who ranged from co-stars to technicians to whoever pleased her at the moment. She would not tolerate anyone telling her what to do, whether that was the Fuhrer or director Alfred Hitchcock. She was totally independent.

Nevertheless, an aging Dietrich is filled with regret. She has left the one man she really loved Jean Gaban. She is alienated from her daughter, Maria, who rightly claims she was not a very good mother. Germans consider her a traitor and do not welcome her back.

Ute Lemper: Rendezvous with Marlene is over two hours long. It is never boring. This is partly due to the nature of the legendary star who inspired the show. But it is also thanks to Lemper’s great artistry and sensitive treatment of her material.

Ute Lemper: Rendezvous With Marlene will be stream online on Wednesday, November 25, 2020 at 8:00pm (EST) and Saturday, December 5, 2020 at 2:00pm (EST). Tickets are $25 and may be purchased at

Click here to read the article on Theater Life site.