European cabaret legend Ute Lemper is making Joe’s Pub her second home for the last two weeks of November, headlining in her new show “Pirate Jenny Comes Back.” The chanteuse will be singing a pastiche of Kurt Weill’s works, Berlin Cabaret Songs, French chanson, contemporary American classics and a few selections from her self-penned album Between Yesterday and Tomorrow.
The German-born singer, who lives on the Upper West Side, has played at countless venues in New York, including the Carlyle Hotel, Carnegie Hall and the Delacorte Theater. Theatergoers may also remember her Broadway run in Chicago, when she replaced Bebe Neuwirth as Velma Kelly. An Olivier Award-winning performer and premier interpreter of Weill’s works, she continues to forge her career with intelligence and a set of terrific titanium pipes.
Following is an excerpt from a recent interview with Lemper.
Q: You certainly get around. You just had a gig at Carnegie Hall in October singing Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins. And before that, you were on a European tour.
A: It was such a crazy tour through six countries in three weeks. We were in Poland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece and Cyprus. We went everywhere.
Q: You sing in German, French and English on stage. How did you get such a command of the French chanson?
A: My career actually started in France. In 1986 I performed the part of Sally Bowles in the musical Cabaret, and I was playing the part in French. I lived in Paris for many years. My first two kids were born in Paris. After living there, you feel more connected to the language and the culture. I spent hours and hours, and weeks and weeks, and years really with the French chanson.
Q: You first played Joe’s Pub back in 1999 right after you headlined in Chicago on Broadway. What do you like about Joe’s Pub?
A: It’s Downtown and different than any cabaret space Uptown. Joe’s Pub was also my first gig in town. I was doing Chicago and I said, ‘When I’m done with the show, Joe’s Pub is the place where I want to go.’ Then, funny or not, a month after I finished, the production people called and said, ‘Please come and perform in our cabaret venue!’
Q: Will you be sharing a few songs from your new album at Joe’s Pub?
A: I will include a few of them but not too many. In order to perform them properly I need a six-piece band. And that doesn’t fit on the Joe’s Pub stage. So I will perform the ones that work in an almost unplugged way.
Q: You have had an incredibly diverse career. What’s next?
A: I have just spent days in a studio to complete the French version of my album. I have a run at the Chaillot Theater in December in Paris. I will be singing my songs in French on stage. And (laughs) I still have to learn the lyrics.
Ute Lemper in “Pirate Jenny Comes Back”
Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St.
Nov. 22, 28 and 29
www.joespub.com or 212-967-7555
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