Last Tango in Berlin

LAST TANGO IN BERLIN is the current show by the sort of legendary Ute Lemper (even though I have never warmed to her recordings), tango themed, in an intimate venue, around the block from my office. Of course I was going to go: she is a consummate performer, technically flawless, with a good band, deft, tart, witty – and a little bloodless, despite a stretch or two or sheer genius.

The tango part of it doesn’t hang together, although there is a bandoneón in the band and she does a few Piazzollas. She sings French with a German accent and Spanish with a French accent, or so it sounds to me, a peculiar effect to say the least. Best moment: the audience, myself included, whistling along softly to “Mac the Knife,” surely one of the best songs ever written for the theater.

Whatever it is that she is lacks may have to do with the fact that she can count on a playing to house full of admirers, which means too much that she can count on and too little need to pull us in, charismatic and attentive though she is.

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