Articles and news related to live appearances

Publication: GScene
By: Brian Butler
Date: November 23, 2020

One of my 2019 highlights was interviewing the international cabaret star Ute Lemper and then just before lockdown this year seeing her show at the Old Market, Hove.

It was a night of nights. Now she and queer actor Alan Cumming have co-produced a re-imagining of her stunning tribute to the legend that is Marlene Dietrich.

Filmed in the actor’s glitzy, risqué looking  Club Cumming , Ute recreates a real-life incident when as a young performer she was telephoned by the  octogenarian recluse who had seen newspaper reports calling Ute “ the  new Marlene “

Ute with her band of musicians holds our attention from beginning to end, and morphs magically from the 20-something bubbly nervous actor/singer to the fiery, slightly deranged chanteuse with her slurred  husky speech and deeply hooded eyes

It’s an absolute tour de force, made more so in this presentation because the close-ups, fades, editing and background setting in the club give a gripping level of intimacy – we believe we are in the club or Dietrich’s lonely Paris apartment.

The songs work better in this  club setting, and Ute has added a gentleman admirer who she can play some of the songs off , not missing a seductive, humorous trick. She slinks her way round the club, lingering often at the bar – this works really well for One For My Baby , the Sinatra hit but also for the Western See What The Boys In The Backroom Will Have.

Ute’s great skill is to make Marlene’s utterances seem absolutely spontaneous and her rambling mind is a crucial part of the performance .

In the final analysis, you’ll remember this outstanding piece of cabaret/theatre for the songs – Where Have All The Flowers Gone, Blowing In The Wind, Lili Marlene and of course the haunting Falling In Love Again.

Brava Lemper. I hear a tv deal is in the wind to bring this to a more permanent audience – I for one can’t wait.

The show is available to buy on line at 1am Wednesday November 25 and again on  Saturday 5 December at 7pm .

Ticket link here

 

Publication: Jonathan Baz Reviews
By: Jonathan Baz
Date: November 22, 2020

★★★★ 
“Lemper interprets Dietrich’s nuance with a breathtaking presence, Lemper’s work is flawless and the movie is a revelation in its detail and its storytelling. Not to be missed”

Ute Lemper: Rendezvous With Marlene is an enchanting glimpse, not only of some of Marlene Dietrich’s most recognised numbers but also of her intriguing connection with Lemper, a singer from a new generation and yet who interprets Dietrich’s nuance with a breathtaking presence.

In a carefully created movie, Lemper curates a loving yet honestly delivered tribute to one of Europe’s most recognised divas of the 20th century. Drawn from an astonishing real-life event in 1989, when Dietrich, then 89 and resident in Paris, tracked down Lemper who was performing in the city – and in the ensuing conversation, only enriched the younger singer’s understanding of Dietrich’s life and her art.

The narrative plays out through a re-enacted phone conversation between Lemper and Dietrich (played by Lemper) that touches upon much of Dietrich’s remarkable journey through Germany in its Weimar, Nazi and latterly its post-war era. While the telephone conversation is rooted in fact, Lemper takes some artistic licence with the spoken detail – and yet the recollections are as fascinating as, at times they are chilling.

Musically, Lemper’s take on Dietrich’s gems are a delight with interpretations that are modern yet classic. 15 songs are woven into the recording that range from Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ In The Wind  and Pete Seeger’s Where Have All The Flowers Gone? through to the gorgeous ratpack work of Johnny Mercer with One For My Baby (a sublime take) and of course Dietrich’s signature number, Lili Marleen.

Lemper’s work is flawless and the movie is a revelation in its detail and its storytelling. But ultimately this is a cabaret-style gig filmed,  and that proves a distraction. For cinematic/streamed storytelling to work well visceral visuals are needed. The heavy hanging Gauloises smoke would work sublimely well in a late night basement cabaret venue – but in this streaming the relentless close-ups of alternating dialogue make for occasional heavy going. And furthermore, a real-life two hour cabaret set would likely include more numbers.

But for those who appreciate fine songs, beautifully sung – as well as an eye-opening glimpse into modern Europe’s history and society, then these autumn streams are not to be missed.

Produced by Alan Cumming and Ute Lemper

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 two evenings this month: Wednesday 25 November at 01.00 and Saturday, 5 December 2020 at 19.00 – All times GMT

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

Click here to read on Jonathan Baz’s Page

Publication: Musical Theatre Review
By: Barrie Jerram
Date: November 21, 2020

Ute Lemper: Rendezvous With Marlene will be also be streamed globally on 25 November 2020 and 5 December 2020 after being filmed at Club Cumming in New York with Alan Cumming and Ute Lemper as producers.

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Ute Lemper’s career, spanning over 30 years is vast and varied. She has been universally praised for her interpretations of Berlin cabaret songs, the works of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht and the chansons of Marlene Dietrich and many other famous songwriters.

Throughout her long career, Lemper has been hailed the new Dietrich  and this show is her personal homage to the legend. It takes the form of  a dialogue between Lemper and Dietrich, exploring Dietrich’s career and personal life from the beginning, in a timeline that eventually meets Lemper’s timeline with a continuation of their parallel stories.

Dietrich is living in a squalid Paris apartment. She is now a recluse, even her daughter Marie has abandoned her, filling her days with memories and bottles of Moet and Chandon. The telephone is her only link with the outside world. She often rings world leaders to chat and persuade them to strive for world peace.

In 1987 she phones Lemper who has written to her, and out of this three-hour call the singer and actress has created and written this show, telling some captivating secrets of her life.

Lemper alternates between the persona of the reclusive Dietrich and the performing one as well as herself. The recluse talks of her loneliness and the pains of the body and the heart. She reminisces about her many affairs, stating that love never lasts but friendships do. The public Dietrich is well known but not the personal which she wants Lemper to redress in the future.

She recalls her hatred of Hitler and the Nazis and that she renounced her Germany citizenship and took up an American one. She enlisted and toured the front lines of Europe to boost the morale of US servicemen – “her boys”. In 1943 her recording of ‘Lili Marleen’ – a song of dreams – is broadcast all over Europe. This led to a backlash in Germany which lasted for years. It was only towards the end of her career that she was welcomed back and even then there were hostile Neo-Nazis protests. Her anti-war spiel leads into a moving version of ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone?’ – half in German and half in English.

When Lemper sings she does so without slavishly impersonating the legend. With songs like ‘One For My Baby’ and ‘Just a Gigolo’ she sings in her own style with the hint of Dietrich being replaced with a jazzy delivery.

Her film work is recalled along with her relations with their directors, particularly with Billy Wilder and Von Sternberg. This enables Lemper to sing ‘The Boys in the Back Room’ and ‘They Call Me Naughty Lola’ where she dons the top hat and adopts that iconic pose on a chair. Lemper gives it a jazz treatment which is augmented by fine piano and trumpet solos.

‘Black Market’ is given a bitter delivery, telling of trading possessions and self for life’s essentials in Berlin. ‘Ruins of Berlin’ recalls memories and laments the destruction of her city.

‘The Laziest Gal In Town’ – a sexy playful delivery – is contrasted with Brel’s wistful ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’ which is heart-wrenching.

French continues as Lemper takes on the character of Edith Piaf – one of Dietrich’s many female lovers – leading the gentle ballad into a swinging version of ‘I Wish You Love’.

Lemper is to be congratulated for weaving together a vast amount of information into an entertaining evening with some classic songs, often presented in her own style.

She is supported by an excellent band that augment but never dominate the singer. Musical director and piano – Vana Gierig; Jesse Mills violin; Matthew Parrish bass; Todd Turkisher drums and Tim Ouimette trumpet. The show is directed by Evan Quinn.

I think it was in 1965, at the Theatre Royal Brighton, that I had the great privilege of seeing Marlene Dietrich perform live. Wonderful memories brought back to mind by Lemper’s performance.

Click here to buy tickets to view the program.

Click here to read the review on the Musical Theatre Review website.

Publication: Love London Love Culture
By: Emma Clarendon
Date: November 20, 2020

This sumptuously presented production offers a fascinating insight into the life of Marlene Dietrich.

Marlene Dietrich’s life and career has made her one of the most fascinating singers and Hollywood stars and has been subject to plenty of stage shows over the years. But she has never been portrayed better than in Ute Lemper’s detailed performance that covers every important element of her life with great understanding and respect.

Rendezvous With Marlene is actually based on Ute Lemper’s own unexpected three hour phone call with Dietrich having sent her letter apologising for being compared to the star when she appeared in Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret. What follows is a combination of music and conversation, that captures Dietrich’s life and thoughts on a variety of topics.

Filmed in Club Cumming in New York, there is a gorgeous cabaret style to the performance that creates this feeling of intimacy, helped by Evan Quinn’s fabulous direction that makes full use of the venue. The show has also been seamlessly edited with high production values for an online audience to make it a completely absorbing if slightly melancholy experience.

While it would be easy to see this as simply a cabaret production, the way in which Lemper has put the show together, there is actually quite a bit of drama underneath the music and stories that reveal just how incredible Dietrich’s life was. In one particularly powerful moment, when she is discussing the way the Nazis wanted her to return to Germany and then moved on to her horror of what was happening in the concentration camps – it shows her inner strength to do what it took to fight against her own countrymen. It is moments like this that are quiet – but pulsate with tension that keep the audience compelled to watch.

Through Ute Lemper’s detailed performance, the audience sees Dietrich as a force of nature – a personality who stood for no nonsense. But equally, you really get a strong sense of her loneliness in her later life that is quite sad to see given just how much she was idolised – particularly after her death.

Vocally, Lemper offers plenty of gorgeous renditions of songs including Pete Seeger’s ‘Where Have the Flowers Gone’ , Johnny Mercer’s ‘One For My Baby’ and ‘Falling in Love Again’ proving to be particular highlights out of the sixteen songs featured. It really is a performance that delivers on all fronts.

Overall, Rendezvous With Marlene is a poignant and insightful way of exploring her life. The attention to detail is simply exquisite.

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 two more evenings – 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

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Click here to read on the Love London Love Culture site.

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”
Londontheatre1

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.

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Click here to read the review on London Theatre 1