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.
By Emma Clarendon
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