Uwe Kröger Makes Girls' Hearts Beat Faster

As der Tod in the musical Elisabeth, he was the reason for two years of sold-out houses. Last year the readers of musicals magazine elected him for the fifth time as number one German-speaking musical star!

Andrea Stephanie Fellner
Besser Wohnen, 1998

Behind the popular artist stands a huge world-wide fan club about which Uwe Kröger says only the best.

Besser Wohnen: How do you see the relationship with your fans today? During Elisabeth you could read the wildest stories! You were persecuted and bothered and could hardly keep your privacy.

Uwe Kröger: Yes, some of those wild stories really happened, but to be fair, I have to point out that a lot of these stories were exaggerated. Today I honestly have to admit that I have hardly ever experienced such loyalty as that of my fans. Since 1992 the International Uwe Kröger Fanclub (IUKC) has existed. About 500 members are regularly informed by the club leader Doris Hager about actions, appearances, and dates. Once a week, Doris' telephone is changed to a tape service. On this "hotline day" there are about 150 who call, informing themselves of the latest news! I'm very proud that my fan club is organised so professionally. I feel protected and would like to take this opportunity to thank my fans for their long-lasting loyalty.

Besser Wohnen: Are the members only females?

Kröger: No, mixed! the fans are between 8 and 80 years old and from different backgrounds. It's not only my live appearances that stand in the foreground! There are constant meetings without me, where many friendships have already been founded. For instance, they organise journeys and trips.

Besser Wohnen: So your fans basically distinguish themselves from those hysterically screaming fans we know from Take That, for instance?

Kröger: Yes, absolutely! The word "fan" has unfortunately gained a rather negative connotation lately. Everyone connects it to loudly screaming teenagers. But my fans want to keep their distance from that! Once a year I join a fan club meeting. But there are also a lot of events and actions during the rest of the year.

Besser Wohnen: What happens to all those stuffed animals you receive?

Kröger: Once a year I give them to a children's home.

Besser Wohnen: Do you become involved with charities in addition?

Kröger: Once a year I appear at the benefit Wider die Gewalt at the Theater an der Wien, under the patronage of Franz Vranitzky, together with many of my colleagues. And there's the one or the other thing where I renounce my salary for charitable reasons.

Besser Wohnen: You worked at an institute for youth psychiatry and in therapeutic education!

Kröger: I worked with youths between the ages of 6 and 22 at a center for therapeutic education. Most of them already had a dark past and hardly any feelings of self-worth. There was, for instance, a boy who had killed his brother. My task was not to punish him, but to restore his self-confidence. You can achieve nothing with deprivation of love in such a case! We spent a lot of time together, I taught him to play guitar. Today he should be about 18 years old.

Besser Wohnen: Do you still have any contact?

Kröger: No. During this work I learned to keep my distance and to be as consistent as possible. That's also very important regarding the fans. Even if I'm friendly, the relationship stays completely non-binding. That's very important, because if a threshold is crossed there's hardly any way to go back again.

If I offer my friendship to somebody, I have to accept the responsibility and can't shift it.

Besser Wohnen: In 1997 the readers of musicals magazine elected you as top German-speaking musical star for the fifth time. What do prizes and awards mean to you?

Kröger: That's a wonderful gift from my audience! I feel very honoured! The magazine Bühne awarded me the readers' prize for best young stage actor of 1996 at the Viennese Opera Ball in 1997. I found that very charming, as I'm not in Vienna all the time and there are so many marvellous colleagues from dramatic theatre and opera. I have to admit that this prize honours me very, very much!

Besser Wohnen: You've played so many different parts! Is there a favourite role?

Kröger: Among others, I've played the leads in Jesus Christ Superstar, Rocky Horror Show, Die Schöne und das Biest. Moreover, I sang at the jubilee performance of Bernstein's Mass presented by Marcel Prawy. But my favourite part is definitely der Tod in Elisabeth. I think I left a lasting impression on that role.

Besser Wohnen: I assume you have little time for TV. Or does your love only belong to theatre and musicals?

Kröger: No, but naturally it is a time problem. I've already done some very nice parts on TV. I like remembering the movie Ein Richter zum Küssen with Klaus J. Wussow or Kommissar Rex. I love playing villains, lunatics and grotesque people! I continuously receive offers for television roles, but a good script and a good director are very important to me!

Besser Wohnen: What does "residing" mean to you?

Kröger: My apartment is a retreat for me! It's where I'm at home and where I enjoy my privacy. As I moved about once a year, I did not set a high value on the furniture. I like plain, simple furniture. I have hardly any pictures on the walls.

Besser Wohnen: Could you imagine moving to Vienna some day?

Kröger: Vienna already means a part of home to me. At the moment such a move would be impossible due to professional reasons. But who knows, maybe in a few years I'll be driven to Vienna!

Besser Wohnen: Can you enjoy Viennese cooking without thinking about your figure?

Kröger: The Viennese specialties are too hearty for me. I prefer light Italian food, but every now and then a Fritattensuppe or a good Kaiserschmarren are not to be rejected from my plate. Generally I have no problems with my figure. But maybe there are people who think I should care more about it!

Besser Wohnen: Dear Uwe, we can't imagine that! Lots of success, all the best for your future, and thanks a lot for the nice interview!

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