Ute Lemper Rendezvous With Marlene – Photo by Russ Rowland.

Publication: London Theatre 1
By: John Groves
Date: November 20, 2020

“Fascinating, essential viewing for fans of both artistes. Ms Lemper has Marlene’s mannerisms perfectly, but her portrayal is much more than that: at times she really convinces us that she IS the great film star”

In 1987, Ute Lemper appeared in Paris as Sally Bowles in Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret. The critics were ecstatic about her performance for which she later won a ‘Moliere Award’, comparing her to Marlene Dietrich, who had taken up permanent residence in the city. Ute sent Marlene, whom she had long admired but never met, a postcard apologising for all the media attention.

Sometime later, out of the blue, Marlene phoned Ute for over three hours: Rendezvous with Marlene, a one-woman show devised and performed by Ute Lemper is based on this phone call.

Ms Lemper plays both herself and Marlene Dietrich, telling the story of an extraordinary life, and trying to get under the skin of this icon. The fact that this is Marlene talking to us and giving us her view of her life is almost totally believable. Ms Lemper has Marlene’s mannerisms perfectly, but her portrayal is much more than that: at times she really convinces us that she IS the great film star.

The life story is interspersed with sixteen songs, most of which are well known. Perhaps the most memorable, certainly in this performance, is Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer’s “One For My Baby”, which is most affecting in a beautifully understated performance, though Pete Seeger’s “Where have all the Flowers Gone” sung in three languages runs it a close second.

Ute Lemper is accompanied by a five-piece band, in which violinist Matthew Parrish plays particularly poignantly, especially some Debussy arrangements.

Six days before Ute’s opening night playing Lola in the 1992 Berlin production of The Blue Angel, the role that had made Dietrich a star in 1928, Marlene passed away. Rendezvous with Marlene is Ute Lemper’s “personal homage to that great lady”. The result is fascinating, if a little depressing, but essential viewing for fans of both artistes. The 129-minute show was recorded live but without an audience. Before Covid it was intended that this show would tour the UK – meanwhile here is an opportunity to be immersed in a powerful story.

Review by John Groves

UTE LEMPER is gracing the virtual series with her critically acclaimed show “Rendezvous with Marlene” which is less filmed concert and more of a theatrical film, shot entirely at Club Cumming. Ute honors the teutonic Marlene with a show based on the true story a phone call Ute received by the film legend 35 years ago in France. “Rendezvous with Marlene,” which debuted in London in 2019, includes some of Marlene’s most beautiful songs and captivating secrets of her life – from her illicit love affairs to her groundbreaking political activism – shared during the three hour-plus call.


Click here to read the review on London Theatre 1

Publication: The Reviews Hub
By: Helen Tope
Date: November 19, 2020

★★★★★ 5 stars
“Impeccably styled but with plenty to say, ‘Ute Lemper: Rendezvous With Marlene’ provides a welcome dose of glamour. Lemper, sensational as Dietrich, seduces her audience, as if we were in touching distance”

Creator and Writer: Ute Lemper
Director: Evan Quinn

Merging style with substance, Rendezvous with Marlene pays tribute to the iconic film star, Marlene Dietrich. Drawing upon a conversation between its subject and its star Ute Lemper, what is remarkable is that this show is not an academic exercise.

In 1988, the paths of Lemper and Dietrich crossed when Lemper starred as Sally Bowles in a production of Cabaret. Her striking resemblance to the German star allowed critics to dub her ‘the new Marlene’. Even though Lemper was awarded the Moliere Award for her performance, she was mortified at being compared to the legend and fired off a postcard apologising to Dietrich. Returning home after work a few days later, Ute was informed that Marlene had rung, asking to speak to her. Rushing to her phone, Lemper took the call. It lasted three hours.

Taking inspiration from that extraordinary call, Lemper created a one-woman show, celebrating the life and music of Dietrich. Appearing in cabaret at the Arcola Theatre in 2019, Rendezous with Marlene is unashamedly evocative. In this version, filmed in Alan Cumming’s bar in New York, we are – from the very first note – drawn into the cabaret world. The stage is perfectly lit; Lemper greets us like old friends. She introduces the show, discussing how her biography has intersected with Dietrich’s over the years. They have lived and worked in the same places; both women finding success interpreting the music of Kurt Weill.

Lemper uses monologue as a bridge between the 5-star song list. Featuring some of Dietrich’s most important music, including Lili Marleen and Falling in Love Again, Lemper paints a picture of Dietrich. It is a highly sympathetic portrait; but when your subject is an androgynous, polygamous anti-fascist, it’s hard to argue against Lemper’s clearly affectionate look at this complex and fascinating woman.

The monologues piece together the phone-call between Ute and Marlene. As Dietrich gossips with Ute, she drifts off into memories of her career: Her star-making role in Blue Angel; the move to Hollywood and Paramount Pictures. Lemper’s Dietrich casts such a spell that we soak up every detail, including that scandalous roll-call of Hollywood lovers.

Of course, it’s not just Dietrich on the stage. As a musical theatre veteran, Lemper blends Dietrich’s tone with her own bravura voice. As Dietrich learns that the emotion is sat in-between the notes of a song, Lemper uses her familiarity with jazz to create beautiful new interpretations of Dietrich classics. One for My Baby and Laziest Gal in Town are particular highlights.

Lemper, as a performer, understands the link between a singer and their music. As we move from Dietrich’s time in Weimar cabaret to the heart of Hollywood, Where Have All the Flowers Gone and Ruins of Berlin depict the troubled relationship Dietrich had with her homeland. An ex-pat, and highly critical of her country’s fall to Nazism, Lemper illustrates this tension as Dietrich moves from English to German, slipping in and out, as if in a dream. Dietrich knew the importance of paying attention to history. Lemper doesn’t have to reach too far in drawing parallels with our own era.

Filmed for an online audience, Rendezvous retains that sense of intimacy so important for a cabaret show. The camera pulls in tightly, reinforcing the idea that we are sat in the dark, taking it all in. While other shows have struggled to make the same impact online, Rendezvous feels made for the digital age. Lemper, sensational as Dietrich, is very comfortable in front of the camera. She seduces her audience, as if we were in touching distance.

Impeccably styled but with plenty to say, Rendezvous provides a welcome dose of glamour. Where Hollywood meets the West End, this is theatre to savour. Pour yourself a drink, pull up a chair. Marlene’s waiting.

Ute Lemper: Rendezvous With Marlene, filmed at Club Cumming in New York with Alan Cumming and Ute Lemper as producers, will be streamed globally on three evenings this month –
Thursday, 19 November at 19.00 (UK time), Wednesday 25 November at 01.00 and Saturday, 5 December 2020 at 19.00.

Booking link: https://www.stellartickets.com/events/club-cumming-productions/ute-lemper-in-rendezvous-with-marlene 

Click here to read the original review online.

Photo: Lucas Allen

Publication: London Theatre Reviews
By: Jari Laasko
Date: 19 November, 2020

★★★★★ 5 stars
“A magical fusion of theatre and cinema – a plea to the world that we must never forget what came before and not to repeat the mistakes of the past”

The international star of stage and cabaret from Broadway to the West End, Ute Lemper shares stories,  personal memories, love and admiration for the Hollywood legend: Marlene Dietrich. Ahead of the worldwide streaming event of her successful one-woman-show, Rendezvous with Marlene, we were invited to preview the show filmed at the Club Cumming in New York.

Rendezvous with Marlene is a highly personal piece to Ute Lemper, as the show is based on a three-hour phone call she received out of the blue from Dietrich in 1988. The icon looked back on her vast career from her beginnings in the Weimar cabaret to her breakthrough in the film Blue Angel, from entertaining the Allied troops during the Second World War to reinventing herself as a star of the world’s greatest concert halls. As  Dietrich got older she felt her legend could not be embellished anymore, she famously didn’t leave her  Parisian apartment. She kept company to her telephone, making calls to her old colleagues, world leaders,  and indeed the newcomer already compared to her. The show is delivered as a dialogue between Dietrich and Lemper, and where Dietrich’s story ends Lemper picks up the baton.

Songs are at the heart of this evening and Lemper gives the Dietrich repertoire a fresh spin with new arrangements provided by a five-piece-band alongside her sultry and jazzy vocals, and often sings the material better than the original. Expect the expected, from the greatest hits like Lili Marlene, Falling in Love  Again to her heartbreaking anti-war anthem with Where Have All The Flowers Gone. It’s with songs like No  Me Quittes Pas, dedicated to the love of her life Jean Gabin, and Que reste-t-il de nos amours / I Wish You  Love sung tenderly to Edith Piaf, a woman whom she was both a stage mother and lover after midnight, is where Lemper serves us a glimpse of the private and vulnerable side of Dietrich. She said she always guarded and kept separate her private life from her public persona, and Illusions perfectly captures the duality of this aspect of her character.

So why tell Dietrich’s story now? This one-woman-show is more than just a filmed cabaret. It is a cinematic performance, richly layered with historical images and videos, staged all over the Club Cummings, perfectly capturing the complexity of Dietrich. She was a trailblazer and in so many ways ahead of her time. Dietrich is a modern woman, who was not afraid to challenge the men around her (and they were powerful, ranging from General Eisenhower to her famous directors), being openly bisexual, and sticking to her political views whilst denouncing her German citizenship and brushing off lucrative offers to perform for the Nazi regime. In the current highly polarised political climate around the world, we need more people like Dietrich, who fought to bring us together (in later life even performing in her native Germany despite the bomb threats and protests due to her actions during the war).

Lemper’s script and performance is not a caricature, which there are so many of Dietrich, but rather a fully-fledged woman of today. She doesn’t copy her delivery or voice but makes each song and story her own,  expressing a range of emotions with her big eyes. And whilst Dietrich is long gone, Lemper continues the great tradition of storytelling through song, inhabiting Dietrich’s ability to be at ease with love, comedy, and taboos. This is a plea to the world that we must never forget what came before and not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Ute Lemper: Rendezvous With Marlene’, filmed at Club Cumming in New York with Alan Cummin and Ute  Lemper as producers, will be streamed globally on three evenings this month – Thursday, 19 November at  19.00 (UK time), Wednesday 25 November at 01.00 and Saturday, 5 December 2020 at 19.00. Tickets here.

Click here to read the review on London Theatre Review site.

“Dietrich recalled by Ute Lemper – unforgettable!”

Publication: ReviewsGate
By: William Russell
Date: November 19, 2020

Lemper, a star in her own right, pays homage to an amazing woman, a great cinema star, a cabaret performer supreme, one who loved life to the full yet ended her days a sad, lonely recluse in this absolutely stunning film. Dietrich is, along with Mae West, along with Mae West, has been imitated by drag queens galore who usually get the look but seldom the woman. Lemper is far to great an artist for that. The scene is the Club Cumming in New York, she is performing her own act, songs associated with Dietrich, and slips in and out of character, sometimes herself, sometimes Marlene as she tells how in 1987 she was starring in Cabaret in Paris and was called the new Dietrich. On a whim she sent Dietrich a note to apologise for the comparisons and a little later she received a phone call. Marlene had tracked her down. Lonely, housebound, she spent her life on the telephone calling the great. the good and the unknown. It is that call Lemper recreates with impeccable skill slipping in and out of character with a change of wrap or just a look. They never spoke again, but over the years she has sung some of Marlene’s songs as a cabaret artist and in 1992 she was Lola in a production of Blue Angel in Berlin. It opened six days after Dietrich.

Dietrich knew her craft as a screen actress and when that ended her partnership with Burt Bacharach resulted in an even more fabulous creation, the figure in the skin tight sequined gown, the epitome of glamour, one achieve at appalling cost. Lemper as Dietrich recalls her work, delivers a devastating list of her lovers, male and female – Judy Garland turned her down – and we hear about her difficult relationship with her daughter, Maria Riva. Motherhood was not one of her talents and the daughter’s life of Marlene did not please the great lady one little bit. It is, actually, a rather good read and Riva in person was charming and just enough like her mother in appearance for it to be one of those haunting interviews.

Marlene as the cabaret star was imperious. You got the show and that was that. It finished, there was a final tantalising curtain call and the audience headed for the stage door and autographs. But the film is as much about Lemper and her own love of the works of the Weimar years. It lasts for just over two hours and proves an enthralling experience – the price of being a screen godess was very high and Dietrich paid it. She was showered with honours, had a distinguished war time career entertaining the troops all over the world in every way possible, was vilified by the Nazis and for a long time by her fellow countrumen, knew and slept with the great and the powerful, and in spite of it all ended up as the lonely recluse worried about being able to pay the rent in her Paris flat. They never met, as Lemper did not call Dietrich back but she does her justice in this enthralling bitter sweet film.

The film is being streamed
7pm Thursday 19 November 2020
1pm Wednesday 25 November 2020
7pm Saturday 5 December 2020
all UK times.

The band
Vana Gierig, Jesse Mills, Matthew Parrish, Todd Turkisher, Tim Ouimette

The booking link is
Tickets cost £25

Click here for the original online review.

“They know my voice, my legs, my movies but they don’t know me… “
– Marlene Dietrich

Publication: Theatre Vibe
Date: 18th November 2020

Ute Lemper is the remarkable looking woman with the longest of fishnet clad legs who, as Velma Kelly,  looked down on us from the poster for Chicago at the Adelphi Theatre on the Strand.  This film was made in New York at Alan Cumming’s club and is about Marlene Dietrich.  She too had famous legs although one director said her legs weren’t that great but she knew how to use them.

I saw Dietrich once as a part of the Official Festival in Edinburgh and although that is more than half a century ago I remember her impressive and iconic stage presence, wearing this shimmering, full length pink gown and singing, Pete Seeger’s “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” partially in German.

This show is based on Ute Lemper’s three hour telephone conversation with Dietrich in 1987 after Lemper had been hailed in Paris as the new Marlene.  Lemper played Sally Bowles in Cabaret in Paris and later in 1992, was cast as Lola in a musical version of The Blue Angel, the part that launched Dietrich’s international film career in 1930.  So the show combines Dietrich’s famous songs with biographical snippets about her life.

You will hear the most famous “Lili Marleen” with all its variant spellings. Dietrich was named Marie Magdalene by her parents which she shortened to Marlene.  Five songs by Friedrich Hollaender feature including “They Call Me Naughty Lola”, “Boys in the Backroom” and “Fallin in Love Again”.   The Jacques Brel song “Ne Me Quitte Pas” which she sings about the love of her life the French actor and singer Jean Gabin.

The show switches between Lemper as Dietrich and Lemper as herself the shy ingenue talking on the telephone to the famous diva. Lemper has great presence, starting this show singing in a bar with faint rear projections of photographs of the day, newspaper headlines about Dietrich and the Hollywood Era which Dietrich stayed in, away from Germany, which saw Hitler’s rise to power.  Her husky vocals recreate Dietrich’s songbook and she has a striking physical resemblance to the blonde haired, high cheekboned, fine eyebrowed star.

As Dietrich she recalls life pre-Hitler under the Weimar republic and the freedom it gave her and reminisces how all that liberation was lost.  When she returns in the 1960s to Germany, “they hated me!” she is met with shouts of “Marlene Go Home”, and “Traitor of the Fatherland” and people letting off stink bombs.  She had joined the American army and sung for GI troops in battlefield area,s of course with great personal danger to herself if she had been captured.  Although she said then, they didn’t know the full horrors of the concentration camps she would have been destined for one if taken.  She was given awards, in France the Legion d’honneur and others by the Allies.

We hear about Dietrich’s famous list of lovers, possibly more than Messalina, a list of whom reads like the Hollywood’s Whos Who of the day, from John Wayne through Gary Cooper, Errol Flynn to Edith Piaf.  About Billy Wilder she said he wasn’t such a great lover but a fabulous director!  His 1948 film A Foreign Affair showed the damage to Berlin by Allied bombers and that footage is used as Dietrich talks about the shock looking at the ruins.  Wilder said Dietrich knew about film lighting so as to highlight her wonderful bone structure.

Lemper as Dietrich sings Harold Arlen’s song “One for my Baby (and One More for the Road)”  with a cigarette to hand and a glass of alcohol.  Often she’ll wear a top hat or trousers and talk about her masculine, feminine, androgynous style and with a cigarette hanging from her generous, lipsticked mouth. She switches between English and German often in her cups.

She recalls making Frenzy with Alfred Hitchcock and asking for a gown by Christian Dior which Hitchcock said the budget wouldn’t stretch to.  She replied, “No Dior. No Dietrich!”  She got the Dior outfit.

Get your Martini glasses out and your feather boa to view this show to recreate the dizzying heights of Thirties hedonism with iconic, jazzy tunes and sumptuous lyrics evocatively sung by Ute Lemper.

Click here to read the full online review with song list, band details and more.