Photo: Russ Rowland

By: Jonathan Evans
Date: November 25, 2020

“This is beautiful and captivating storytelling through music and memory”

“Welcome to my rendezvous with Marlene. It is a true story that indeed happened in the year 1987, in Paris… Marlene Dietrich was a ‘woman of the future’. And that woman of the future gave me a message, for us – in that future today. Let’s go back in time”.

So begins Ute Lemper’s cabaret style show about Dietrich’s extraordinary life; a dialogue in words and music recorded at Alan Cummings’ club in New York. The starting point is a letter Ute wrote to Dietrich apologising for being dubbed the ‘New Marlene’. Ute thought she was nothing of the sort – she was just at the beginning of her career in theatre and music, whereas Marlene was looking back on a long, fulfilled life of movies, music, love stories and stardom. But out of the blue, returning to her hotel while appearing as Sally Bowles in “Cabaret”, Ute received a telephone call from Marlene, and that conversation forms the basis of this show.

“They know my voice, my legs, my movies… but they don’ t know me”, intones Ute in the distinctive, off-key, husky voice of Marlene’s. The telephone had become, by now, her only connection to the outside world and for the next three hours, if we are to believe the narrative, Dietrich poured out her life story. And believe it we do, as Ute slips back and forth in time, playing both herself and Marlene with reverential attention to detail. Ute not only captures the mannerisms and cadences and key moments, but she digs deeper and inhabits her thoughts too. We get a deeply personalised account of this ‘woman of the future’, who renounced her native Germany in protest at the Nazi regime and who challenged the men around her including world leaders. We follow her from the beginning; from the Weimar cabaret, her thrust into stardom with ‘Blue Angel’, her contribution to the American war effort, her Hollywood career, her eventual return to Berlin despite the hostility she received there, her humanitarian efforts and her final solitude. And, of course, the love affairs.

At the core are the songs. Iconic, and forever associated with Dietrich. Backed by a five-piece band led by pianist Vana Gierig, the modern flavour complements the sensual richness of Ute’s vocals. ‘Falling in Love Again’, ‘Just a Gigolo’, ‘One for my Baby’, ‘Illusions’, ‘Lili Marleen’, ‘The Ruins of Berlin’, ‘The Laziest Gal in Town’, ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’, ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone?’… and more. It is safe to say that Ute improves immeasurably on the originals. She is in top form here, stretching way, way beyond Dietrich’s limited range technically and emotionally. Her rendition of the songs reveals as much about the private vulnerability of Dietrich as do the anecdotal facts.

This is beautiful and captivating storytelling through music and memory. A loving montage directed and edited by Evan Quinn as we follow Ute following in Marlene’s footsteps. In 1992 she was hired to play Lola in ‘The Blue Angel’ in Berlin; exactly sixty-four years after Marlene was the ‘Blue Angel’ in Weimar times. She had been twenty-eight years old at the time and Ute was, also, twenty-eight. Ten days before opening might, Marlene passed away. Ute was there at the funeral.

“So, what was it that Marlene wanted me to tell you?” Ute asks in the closing moments of the cabaret as we come full cycle. “She wanted to talk about people, nations, stupidity, the empowerment of women, the intelligence of women. She wanted to talk about history. Never to forget. And always to remember.” This parting plea, urging us not to repeat the mistakes of the past, runs deep as she closes with a few bars of ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone’, followed by a stirring and emotive rendition of Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowing in the Wind’. One thing is for sure: Ute Lemper’s performance is unforgettable.

Ute Lemper: Rendezvous With Marlene

filmed at Club Cumming in New York with Alan Cumming and Ute Lemper as producers, will be streamed again globally on Saturday, 5 December 2020 at 19.00.

Click here to book

By: Carole Woddis
Date: November 24, 2020

Marlene, forever the enigma, hated in her home country, Germany, later restored to favour. Wooed in Hollywood, loved by audiences round the world, pinned into frocks – I remember that sequined dress thatwodis made her shuffle to the front of the stage like a geisha when I saw her London – dying a recluse in Paris at 94.

And now Ute Lemper has produced a two hour show about Dietrich’s extraordinary life, already seen in London and toured earlier this year.

Rendezvous with Marlene, a two hour dialogue in words and music between Lemper and Marlene is based on the even more unlikely but true encounter Lemper had with Dietrich through a three hour phone call in which Dietrich poured out her life story.

The German connection would have been the bond but Lemper’s professional career often seems to have parelleled Dietrich if her personal life has been a little less racy – as Dietrich describes it, `all those beautiful leading men and the writers’. And yes women, including the oh so vulnerable Piaf.

Dietrich, says Lemper, was ‘a woman of the future’, determined, ambitious, outspoken.
So here is Lemper in full spate, in a show recorded at Alan Cummings’ club in Manhattan, heavy-lidded like Dietrich’s, flashing thighs with legs that seem to go on forever, haunting the bar for songs like `Boys in the Backroom’ and ‘One for my Baby’.

Here too are the iconic songs associated forever with Dietrich – ‘Lili Marleen’, `Laziest Gal in Town’ and ‘Falling in Love Again’.

Lemper puts her own individual stamp on all of them, inevitably, but with sensitivity thanks to her wonderfully sympathetic backing musicians.

Absolutely fascinating on the life story, Lemper’s voice, pure and clear, can go jazzy or deeply melancholic. Berlin’s Weimar cabaret, i and smokey dives where hearts get broken are conjured with the minimum of effects, sometimes augmented or overlaid by video clips. But she is at her most poignant on Dietrich’s wartime experiences and later, separating from the love of her life, the French film star, Jean Gabin.

At a time of such Little Englander island sentiment, it’s a joy to feel that connection with our European links as Lemper sings with ease in perfect French, English (after her years living in New York) and of course German.

Ute Lemper: Rendezvous With Marlene’ has already been streamed globally earlier this month but it is also streaming this Wednesday 25 November at 01.00 and Saturday, 5 December 2020at 19.00. Booking link:

Carole Woddis on Facebook

Carole has been a theatre journalist and critic for over 30 years. London reviewer and feature writer for Glasgow’s The Herald for 12 years and for many other newspapers and magazines, she now review for various theatre websites as well as her own.

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:

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.