The Sage Gateshead Interviews: Peter Groom (star of Marlene Dietrich: Live in Gateshead)
After touring internationally with award-winning one (wo)man show, Dietrich: Natural Duty, actor and drag artist Peter Groom is returning to the North East with a brand new cabaret.
Drawing inspiration from Marlene Dietrich’s iconic solo show, performed internationally during her last years in the limelight, the new cabaret is a sensational evening of song that revisits some of the Hollywood star’s most memorable numbers, including Lili Marlene, Lola, and of course Falling in Love Again.
In advance of his upcoming performance at Sage Gateshead we asked Peter about his performance history, his relationship with music, and of course, Marlene Dietrich…
What was the first record you bought?
Probably something terribly embarrassing like Steps.
Who do you most admire?
Oh, difficult question, there are so many. Dietrich of course, but less for her persona and more her sense of morality and duty, which I find pretty extraordinary, and that forms a large part of my other show ‘Dietrich: Natural Duty’. I suppose another artist I particularly admire is Maria Callas. Her commitment to her art I find very inspiring. Her epic quality of feeling when she sings, her bravery to change the quality of the voice, even when it may be unpleasant to listen to, in order to communicate something of the character. She demands so much of herself and I like that drive.
What do you like most about performing live on stage?
The audience. We’ve been travelling for nearly two years and I’ve been lucky enough to perform to audiences across the world, and the love for Marlene, for her material, is so strong, you can feel it on stage. It’s very special to get to share this with an audience. Also particularly, having been born in Newcastle and living most of my life there I’m thrilled to be performing for a home crowd. It’s always special to come home.
What music are you listening to at the moment?
Well currently a lot of Dietrich ahead of December’s show. I like to find new rare recordings of hers which are not so well known, such as ‘Wot Cher, Knocked ’em in the Old Kent Road’. Go listen and hear Marlene’s cockney accent!
What type of concerts / cultural events do you like going to?
Anything that’s live. I like the excitement of really being there and hearing it. The last concert I went to was Christeene at The Barbican, and the energy in that room was amazing. It felt we were part of queer history that night!
What’s been your experience when you’ve performed at Sage Gateshead?
I performed with the Royal Northern Sinfonia as part of Curious Festival in July and it was a wonderful evening. To sing with such talented musicians and to meet them and get to know them a little was great. I like the Sage a lot, and I’m thrilled to bring Marlene back there!
Peter Groom will be bringing Marlene back to Sage Gateshead on Wednesday 18th December, with a cabaret night of Dietrich’s most notable numbers, classics from the Great American Songbook, and a few Festive tunes.
Available online or at the box office
Marlene Dietrich: Live in Gateshead is presented by Sage Gateshead and Curious Arts.