“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.

Publication: LouReviews.Blog
By: Louise Penn
Date: November 18, 2020

More of a dramatic piece than a concert, Ute Lemper (once described as “the new Marlene”) brings back the memory of the progressive woman, “Hollywood icon, chanteuse, soldier”, through song and speech. The woman who phoned her out of the blue back in the 80s, bringing their stories together in this touching show. This is Ute Lemper – Rendezvous With Marlene.

Sumptuously filmed with high production values, Lemper’s show, running at over two hours, is a feast for the eyes and ears. From the first note of Falling in Love Again (sung in German and English), we are in the presence of a practiced cabaret performer celebrating one of the very best. There is love up here on the screen and it shows.

I recall first seeing Lemper performing the catalogue of Kurt Weill. Her phrasing and deep connection to the music was apparent, and evoked memories of the singing of Lotte Lenya in works such as Die Dreigroschenoper. Now in glamorous late middle age, she has grown in style and stature.

Dietrich, of course, is iconic, whether in recordings, on the screen, or as a woman (androgynous, bisexual, polygamous, brave, outspoken, beautiful). Her image from all those black and white photographs, and her deep, husky voice, are instantly recognisable. You can believe she chatted to world leaders from her reclusive home in her final years.

Rendezvous with Marlene is perfect late night viewing, filmed in locked-down New York. Lemper displays a warm intimacy with her band and despite a lack of live audience, engages with the online viewers. Dietrich herself appeared a little more aloof in concert footage late in life, but this is no simple imitation. It is a snapshot in a remarkable life than made an impression on a young performer.

As an admirer of both women, I jumped at the chance to review this film. It inevitably loses that magical atmosphere and power which comes with live theatre and sharing a moment with other audience members and the performers, but Lemper’s respect for her subject is evident throughout and her own brand of allure and musical talent will keep audiences enthralled.

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. Thu 19 November at 7pm (UK time), Wed 25 November at 1am, and Sat 5 December at 7pm.

Booking link: https://www.stellartickets.com/events/club-cumming-productions/ute-lemper-in-rendezvous-with-marlene. $25 per ticket.

LouReviews received complimentary access to review Rendezvous With Marlene.

Read The original article online here.

“Dear friends,

I am so glad that we are able to post my Rendezvous with Marlene again for streaming.

After receiving many calls to re-stream the event, we now did some wonderful re-edits and post-production to make it even more magical.

I am so happy to see you all again and stay in touch in the midst of this time out.

Miss you all and much love,

Click here to select your tickets to view the re-stream.

Publication: JazzPodium
Date: October 2020


Nachdem Ute Lemper 1987 einen Moliere, den nationalen Theaterpreis Frankreichs, als beste Nachwuchsdarstellerin in der Pariser Version des Musi­cals »Cabaret« fur ihre Rolle der Sally Bowles erhalten hatte, schrieb sie eine Postkarte an Marlene Dietrich und entschul­digte sich bei dieser dafür, dass die Medien sie immer wieder mit ihr verglichen und sie als »junge Marlene« feierten. Später tele­fonierten die beiden drei Stun­den lang über Gott und die Welt – lnitialzündung und Basis fur ihre Show »Rendezvous mit Marlene« und auch fur diese CD. Sie enthält Songs aus alien Lebensabschnitten der Dietrich, van den Berliner Kabarettjahren bis zu ihrer Zusammenarbeit mit Burt Bacharach. Ute Lem­per ist in dieser Hommage wesentlich dichter am Jazz als Marlene Dietrich. Aber man sollte nicht das stimmliche Po­tenzial der beiden vergleichen – zu verschieden sind die beiden Persönlichkeiten. Lemper hat sich längst ins Spitzenfeld der grossen Entertainerinnen gesun­gen und ist unbestritten einer der wenigen deutschen Welt­stars. Aber diese ganz spezielle »fesche Lola« singt hier und heute, jenseits oiler Nostalgien. Natürlich hat sie noch einen Koffer in Berlin. Und natürlich erweist sie ouch Edith Piaf ihre Reverenz. Aber es ist und bleibt eines der besten und jazzigsten Alben der Lemper. Cole Porters »The Laziest Gal in Town« und »When the World Was Young« aus dem Repertoire von Frank Sinatra sind vielleicht die Höhe­punkte, aber auch »Wenn ich mir was wunschen durfte« und »Falling in Love Again« verkör­pern perfekt dieses ganz spezielle und zeitlose »Heimweh nach der Traurigkeit« jenseits aller tagesaktuellen Befindlich­keiten. 

Click here for pdf from publication.

Publication: New Jersey Jazz Society
Reviewer: Joe Lang
Date: June 29, 2020

When she received much acclaim for her 1988 performance in the Paris staging of Cabaret, including some comparisons to Marlene Dietrich, German actress/singer UTE LEMPER felt embarrassed by this, and wrote a note to Dietrich apologizing for the comparison.  She received a phone call from Dietrich in return, and during their lengthy conversation, Dietrich recalled much of what had occurred in her life.  It was an occasion of great significance for Lemper.  A few years ago, Lemper created Rendezvous With Marlene (Jazzhaus – 184). This show, originally done as a cabaret performance, provided an overview of Dietrich’s life and career, with Lemper performing 20 songs associated with Dietrich.  I saw the show at the York Theater last year and greatly enjoyed it.  Lemper does an effective job of capturing the Dietrich persona, but also brings much of her own performing personality to the production.  She is an accomplished actress and singer, who moves easily between being herself and channeling Dietrich.  The recording contains only the musical portion of the show, but stands nicely on its own.  (utelemper.com)

Click here for the original online review.