Ute Lemper | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Ute Lemper


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Though she invites comparisons to Dietrich, Piaf, and Lotte Lenya, German chanteuse Ute Lemper is slowly forging a persona of her own--that of postmodern siren. She started her career in the mid-80s, in the Viennese production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats. She did the title role in a revival of Peter Pan, portrayed Sally Bowles in Cabaret, and a couple of years ago played Lola in the ill-fated German stage adaptation of The Blue Angel. She's appeared in Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books and Robert Altman's upcoming Pret-a-Porter; her next role is likely to be Mata Hari in Altman's biopic. And she's trained in classical ballet. Still, Lemper's most notable achievement to date is as a high-profile, superbly gifted successor to the fabled tradition of European cabaret singing. Onstage she can project Piaf's quivery vulnerability, Dietrich's sexual arrogance, and Lenya's butch weariness; but her voice is bigger and more pliable than any of her idols'--and she's more like Minnelli or Streisand in her range. At these engagements she'll offer her own takes on "Naughty Lola," "Lili Marlene," and "La Vie en Rose," as well as a medley of Kurt Weill numbers--and her rendition of "Alabama Song" promises to be wicked. Pianist Bruce Fontaine accompanies. Wednesday, 7:30 PM, and next Friday and Saturday, November 4 and 5, 8 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage; 929-5959.

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