Review: Gayle Tufts ‘Love’

Gayle Tufts ‘Love!’

at The Tipi am Kanzleramt.


(pic: Jan Wirdeier)

Gayle Tufts’ new show is all about love in its many, many forms. The titular opening song makes this unequivocal case from the very start:

“Love – the reason that I wake up every day

 Love – the reason that a young man knows he’s gay

 Love – it’s here inside my heart

 It’s a place to start”


The show is also about this American-born entertainer’s love for her adopted country of Germany – its traditions, foibles, hang-ups, men and, of course, its leader.

In true Weimar tradition, the powerful are never too big to be made fun of from a cabaret stage, and Frau Merkel is no exception. A hilarious re-working of the Carly Rae Jepson hit ‘Call Me, Maybe’ sees the Bundeskanzlerin pleading with the world to love her and also nicely references the alleged phone-tapping activities of the US secret services.


Accompanied on the piano by the magnificent Marian Lux and the surprisingly game-for-it string trio ‘Strings de Lux’  the combination of re-imagined covers and original songs come thick and fast. A stand-out moment of the first half being the very beautiful “The One That Got Away”, especially written for the show by Tufts and Lux.

(pic: Jan Wirdeier)

In preparing for the show, Gayle Tufts asked her followers on social media to suggest their favourite love songs and was, unsurprisingly, deluged with offerings of heartbreak and woe! The 11-song ‘Break-up Medley’ that closes the first half is a hilarious journey through the work of  Adele, Elton John, Prince and Dolly Parton. Finally, someone gets it – ‘I Will Always Love You’ is not a cutesy love song by any stretch of the imagination but a tale of utter despair.

The second half opens with Ms.Tufts dressed as a bee. Why? “because I fucking want to”  and there you have it! A unique performer in her own right, it doesn’t take a leap of the imagination to see the influences of the likes of Bette Midler at work here – and there’s nothing wrong with that!

The ‘love’ theme continues with the German adoration of both football and Schlager music on Saturday night TV shows, and then brings us back into more traditional territory of the songs of Irving Berlin.

(pic: Jan Wirdeier)

This show is a masterclass in ‘Denglish’ – stories starting in German end in English and vice versa. The two languages flip-flop throughout and even with the shakiest grasp on either, the audience is never left wondering what is going on.


A first-night standing ovation at the Tipi and worthy of continued packed houses.



Tipi am Kanzleramt

8 April to 4th March 2014

Tuesday to Saturday 20:00 (entry from 18:30)

Sunday 19:00 ( entry from 17:30)

Tickets: €20.80 to €34.50

030 39 06 65 50

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Marlene Dietrich’s Berlin


One of Berlin’s most notable addresses is a modest apartment block halfway down an unassuming side street, just to the west of Julius-Leber-Brücke S-Bahn station in Schöneberg.

The 20th century was just two years old when Maria Magdalene Dietrich was born at Leberstraße 65, then known as Sedanstraße, on December 27th 1901, but it was only the first of many apartments around Schöneberg the family would live in over the next three decades.

(plaque at Leberststraße 65. Pic – Brendan Nash)

(plaque at Leberststraße 65. Pic – Brendan Nash)

Maria’s parents, police officer Louis Dietrich and Josephine Felsing, a watchmaker’s daughter, had married in 1898 and immediately taken up residence in the newly-built first floor apartment, which was directly above the police station where Louis was based. Their first child Elisabeth was born two years later in February 1900.

By 1904, the now family of four had outgrown their modest dwelling in Sedanstraße and moved into the ground floor of Kolonnenstraße 48, just around the corner. This was a very quiet neighbourhood and a safe environment for the two young girls.  Their father, keen on his children having a good education, engaged  private tutors and the girls taught English, French and music from a very early age.

Two years later, the family were on the move again, this time to the stylish and more upmarket Potsdamer Straße 48 (now number 116).  But their time here was to be shorter than intended: Louis Dietrich’s  became ill and he was admitted to a sanatorium. They moved home again to be near him in the hospital and rented a house at Akazienallee 48 in the Westend.

On August 5th 1908, Louis Dietrich died from a long-standing syphilis infection in the ‘Haus für Gemütskranke’ on Nußbaumallee. His widow and her two daughters immediately had to undergo blood tests to ensure they had not also been infected, and thankfully the results were negative. In later life, Marlene would maintain that her father had died in a horse riding accident.


Less than a year after moving west, the family were back in the city centre in a second floor apartment at Tauentzienstraße 13. Money was tight for Josephine and her daughters, living on only a widow’s pension. However, Josephine was determined to continue her daughters’ private music and language lessons and Marlene struck up an intense friendship with her new French teacher, Mademoiselle Breguand.

(young Marlene Dietrich. Pic- unknown)

This apartment opposite the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche was to be their home for the next six years, with the girls attending the Auguste-Viktoria-Mädchenschule in nearby Nürnberger Straße.

In 1914, Josephine married the best-friend of her deceased husband, Eduard von Losch. It was a very modest ceremony with not even the Dietrich daughters in attendance and with Josephine still dressed in her widow’s attire.

The family moved to an elegant garden apartment at Kaiserallee 219 (now known as Bundesallee).

The two teenage sisters filled their lives with music, playing Bach and Chopin at home and singing along to all the current popular hits at the local ice rinks and dances.

When war broke out in July 1914, their step-father was immediately drafted and, by September, was recovering from injuries in a hospital in Braunschweig. The family spent three weeks there looking after him before he was sent back to the front.

As the war intensified, Josephine moved herself and her daughters out of Berlin to relatives of her husband’s in Dessau, where they spent most of 1915 and 1916. It was the first time Maria and Elisabeth had been away from Berlin. Eduard von Losch was killed in battle in 1916 and Josephine was once again a widow.

By spring of 1917 the family had returned to Berlin and to Kaiserallee, but this time to a fourth floor apartment at No. 135. Maria loved their new abode and thrived at school and in her private tuition. She was becoming very accomplished on the violin and had developed an interest in the performing arts. A huge crush on the silent film actress Henny Porten only increased this interest. On Friday afternoons, Maria would queue outside the Mozartsaal Kino on Nollendorfplatz (now Goya), hoping to catch a glimpse of her heroine as the film stars arrived for that evening’s premiere.

(Mozartsaal Kino on Nollendorfplatz, now Goya)

Josephine was becoming increasing concerned by her daughter’s behaviour, her wild crushes and rebelliousness and, early in 1919, Maria was sent to a musical boarding school in Weimar. This did nothing to dampen her enthusiasm for falling in love and after an affair with a married man was discovered, she was sent back home to Berlin. Now going under the name of Marlene, she returned to her mother’s apartment in Bundesallee 135. However, a diagnosis of severe tendonitis brought an end to her thoughts of a career as a concert violinist.

She had by now auditioned for the Deutsches Theater and was appearing in small walk-on roles and occasional cabarets, much to the displeasure of her mother, who felt the entertainment business was unsuitable. In 1922, and after several failed auditions, she was finally been accepted into Max Reinhardt’s theatre school, making her debut with the company in December of that year.

(Nassauische Straße 30, today. Pic- Brendan Nash)

Marlene’s work rate was impressive: she accepted almost anything that came her way, and by early 1923 had appeared in 17 silent films and 26 stage productions, all in minor supporting roles. She had also met Rudolf Sieber, whom she married on May 14th 1923 at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche. They moved into the first of their three homes in the area, at Nassauische Straße 30, but Marlene soon fell pregnant and by the following year they had moved again, this time back to Bundesallee at No.17.

(Bundesallee 17, today. Pic – Brendan Nash)

Their daughter, Maria Elizabeth Sieber, was born on the December 13th 1924, but by this time, their marriage was all but over. Rudolf had dissolved their wedding vows  and given Marlene complete financial independence. However, they continued to live together and in 1925 moved again, into the family home they would share for the next six years at Bundesallee 54.

(Bundesallee 54, today. Pic – Brendan Nash)

Over the next few years, Marlene’s star would continue to rise and she embarked on numerous affairs – mostly with women. Rudi’s lover, the Russian dancer Tamara Matul, also moved into the family home. She was officially a nanny for young Maria and her relationship with Rudi was kept secret, both from the child and from the public.


On the night of April 1st 1930,  Marlene attended the premiere of The Blue Angel – her first leading role in a movie – at the Gloria Palast on Kurfürstendamm. She took to the stage after the screening, accepting the audience applause and bouquets, then took a taxi to the Anhalter Bahnhof for a train out of Berlin. She was heading for Hollywood.


Marlene was to have one last home in Berlin, though. After her death in Paris on May 6th 1992, her body was flown home and buried ten days later at the Städtischer Friedhof in Stubenrauchstraße, near her mother and a stone’s throw from her home on the Bundesallee.


(Städtischer Friedhof. Pic- Brendan Nash)

“Hier steh’ ich an den Marken meiner Tage” 



The Dietrich/ von Losch/ Sieber family homes:

1898 – 1904 Leberstraße 65

1904 – 1906 Kolonnenstraße 48/49

1906 -1907 Potsdamer Straße 116

1907 -1908 Akazienallee 48

1908 -1914 Tauentzienstraße 13

1914 – 1915 Bundesallee 219/220

1915 – 1917 Dessau

1917 – 1923 Bundesallee 135

1923 – 1924 Nassauische Straße 30

1924 – 1925 Bundesallee 17

1925 – 1930 Bundesallee 54

 1992 – Today Städtischer Friedhof, Stubenrauchstraße.

This article was originally written for, and published by, Slow Travel Berlin.

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Preview – Ein Bisschen Leichtsinn

Having played to full-houses in Copenhagen during 2013, Mads Elung-Jensen & Dirk Rave bring their Kabarettabend to Berlin ” where she really belongs” for just a couple of dates in February and March.

‘Ein Bisschen Leichtsinn’ features the history and stories of the Weimar Era set to the beautiful music of Walter Kollo, Walter Jurmann, Friedrich Holländer, Werner Richard Heymann and Robert Gilbert.

The stories between the music are written by Wolfgang Homering.


Sunday 9th February, 19:00

Zimmertheater , Bornstrasse 17, Berlin Steglitz

€15 ( concessions €9)

Friday 14th  March 19:00

Sally Bowles cafe-bar, Eisenacherstrasse 2 , Berlin Schöneberg

Free Entry – donations appreciated


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Walter Kollo

Elimar Walter Kollodzieyski was born in Neidenburg, East Prussia on January 28th 1878, the son of an affluent businessman and a concert pianist.

He was encouraged to study music from an early age by his mother, much to the disappointment of his father who later disinherited him.

His first professional engagement was as a teacher and composer in Königsberg at the turn of the century where he met and married Marie Preuss, a singer performing under the stage name of Mizzi Josetti.

In 1904 they had a son, Willi, and the family moved to Berlin where he changed his name to Walter Kollo.

The young pianist and composer was in great demand among the cabarets and theatres of Berlin and was soon regularly working at Max Rheinhardt’s ‘Schall und Rauch’ and the equally famous ‘Roland Von Berlin’ cabaret stages. It was at the latter where he met Claire Waldoff, and together with lyricist Herman Frey, wrote the song ‘Schmackeduzchen’ for the then unknown 23 yr old singer. They  performed the song almost every night for the next two years. They would go on to form a lifelong friendship, writing and performing dozens of songs over the years including one of Claire Waldoff’s biggest hits ‘Ach Jott, was sind die Männer dumm’ taken from the operetta ‘Drei Alte Schachteln’ performed more than a thousand  times at the Theater am Nollendorfplatz, now Goya.

Over the next 30 years, he would compose over 40 operettas that premiered in theatres throughout Berlin and also in Hamburg, Munich, Mainz, Köln and Paris.

By 1923 he was collaborating with his son Willi, who was just 19 years old, and they had several huge hits culminating in the 1933 production ‘Lieber Reich, aber Glücklich’ and 1935’s  ‘Berlin,  wie es Weint und Lacht’ which both ran at the Komodiehaus, sold out every night, for two years.

Away from composing, in 1915, Walter Kollo founded the Gesellschaft für Musikalische Aufführungs, now known as GEMA, and now one of the worlds largest societies representing the copyrights of musicians and publishers.

He also founded his own publishing company VUVAG in 1919, which until recently was still under the ownership of the Kollo family.

In the late 1930’s he retired from working life having become a grandfather to Willi’s daughter Marguerite Kollo in 1935 and then his son Rene Kollo in 1937.

He died in 1940, aged just 62,  in his apartment in Schwäbischer Straße in Schöneberg, and is buried in the Sophienfriedhof in Invalidenstraße.


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Review – Spymonkey in ‘Cooped’ at The Tipi am Kanzleramt

British comedy group Spymonkey have without doubt created their very own theatrical genre. Part physical theatre, part slapstick, part clowning and with a couple of healthy doses of vaudeville, it’s fair to say you probably won’t have seen anything like this before.

(pic: Sean Dennie)

‘Cooped’, the production they have brought to Berlin for the first time, is a spoof comedy horror story set in a crumbling manor house in the English county of Northumberlandshirehampton. Each of Spymonkey’s four extraordinarily talented performers are playing characters, playing other characters.

Toby Young playing handsome, debonaire actor Forbes Murston introduces his cast:

Petra Massey plays Amanda Bandy, a starlet with a burgeoning pop career and ‘face of Rimmel cosmetics’, playing innocent personal assistant Laura Du Lay; Stephan Kreiss plays Udo Kellar, stalwart of German Expressionist Theatre, playing Klaus the butler; and Aitor Basauri plays Alfredo Graves, superstar Spanish soap actor playing family solicitor Roger Parchment, police inspector Judedench and a host of other roles.

Confused? You probably will be, but that’s half the fun of it.

The story has all the essential components- a remote country house, a deranged butler, dark family secrets and, of course, a murderous evil twin. But there are also some unexpected surprises – a chorus of Hassidic Jews, out of control wild fowl and a naked ballet!

This certainly isn’t ‘Dinner For One’!

(pic: Jane Hobson)

(pic: Jane Hobson)

Although performed entirely in English, the mostly German-speaking audience at the opening night loved every minute of it. The sheer physicality of the performances is extraordinary and there are many genuinely laugh out loud moments.

This is very bold programming by The Tipi and deserves big audiences. With the dark January days upon us, give yourself a treat and book a ticket now.

(Pic: Jane Hobson)

Spymonkey in ‘Cooped’

3- 26 January 2014

Tuesday to Saturday 20:00, entry from 18:30

Sunday 19:00, entry from 17:30

Tickets €25,10 to €39,50

Tickets 030 39 06 65 50

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