Rendezvous with Marlene

Rendezvous with Marlene *****

Review of performance via YouTube: Nov 23, 2020

© Russ Rowland

UTE LEMPER channelling Dietrich!
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 that 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 homage to Dietrich and her 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 when living as a recluse in Paris. She was 86, Ute in her 20s.

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.

© Russ Rowland

So here is Lemper in full spate, in a show recorded at Alan Cumming’s 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, but with great sensitivity thanks to her wonderfully sympathetic backing musicians led by Vana Gierig on piano with Jesse Mills adding a hauntingly sad violin line.

Absolutely fascinating on the life story, Lemper’s voice, pure and clear, can go jazzy or deeply melancholic. Berlin’s Weimar cabaret and smokey dives where broken hearts come to find solace, 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 2020 at 19.00. Booking link:…/ute-lemper-in….

Fabulous. Don’t miss.

Rendezvous with Marlene

Created, written and performed by Ute Lemper
Dancer/Actor: Taylor Shubert
Bartender: Darren Dryden

Vana Gierig – Piano/Music Supervisor,
Jesse Mills – Violin,
Matthew Parrish – Bass,
Todd Turkisher – Drums,
Tim Ouimette – Trumpet

Directed and edited by Evan Quinn in collaboration with Ute Lemper
Director of Photography: Scott Mason
Cinematic Collage Footage: Roman Kuskowski
Sound recording & mix: Charles A Martinez
Production Manager: Matt Berman
Executive Producer: Ute Lemper, Daniel Nardicio. Alan Cumming
Producer: Sam Benedict

A Club Cumming production.
CD Available

Review published on this site, Nov 24, 2020