Love, Death and Uwe

Uwe Kröger is the star in Elisabeth: the beautiful, androgynous Death he plays in the successful musical breaks many hearts.

Martina Spitzbart

A strong handshake. A deep look from his beautiful eyes. A charming smile.

What would many girls give to spend an afternoon with him? Probably the school vacations at Christmas, Easter and during the summer, just to sit with nervously beating heart right next to him.

My heart did not beat faster. Although: he is likeable, friendly and above all, he has kept his impressive naturalness. The success he has enjoyed as der Tod in the musical Elisabeth did not go to his head.

"When I first heard about this project of the Vereinigte Bühnen Wien, I was sceptical"; Kroeger thought it would turn out to be a huge, sloppy show and the only thing he knew about the Empress Sisi where those movies with Romy Schneider. "A friend of mine introduced me to the biography by Brigitte Hamann." Reading that, he became interested, and the musical's concept, a triangle between Emperor, Empress and Death, seemed fascinating to him. At the audition, the young German convinced the creative team and Harry Kupfer and was one of the first few who received a fix contract: as a jazzy Death, who was allowed to bring a lot of his own personality into the show.

"I don't like anything that has to do with idolisation", he explains his initial distrust of the cult-burdened Sisi material. "What lies behind it, why a person rouses interest, that is what I find exciting."

And the interest you rouse, Mr. Kröger?

"Oh, it is wonderful to be cheered each night, when lots of people wait at the stage door, when..." When the admiration does not go too far. His fans crowd around him, and every week he receives more than 70 letters, which he, as Kröger points out, "replies to personally". His fans, 99% females of all ages, know exactly where to find their idol.

"I got used to letters at my car and lipstick-kisses on the car's mirrors"; Kröger's repertoire of funny and touching stories with fans seems never-ending.

One lady creates cartoons regularly, in which the blond singer as the hero is chased by an evil blackhaired lady - probably the actress of Sisi, Pia Douwes. "I conquer all dangers and at the end I always win a pretty blond girl"; he assumes her to be the painter of these cartoons. Uwe is also pampered with lovingly created gifts: for his birthday he received six bottles of champagne, labelled "Uwe Kröger Cuvée". And concerned fans provide him with "healthy tea blends".

The letters are dominated by autograph wishes. Other writers also want to correspond with the star about their problems or wish to have therapy sessions with him. "Yes, I formerly worked in youth psychiatry, but now, I am an actor"; he thinks about an unpleasant experience. "A young lady was suddenly standing in front of my apartment's door and wanted desperately to talk to me. To my explanations that that would not be possible, she reacted with an angry letter, in which she threatened me to follow me into my dreams" - "But these are exceptions."

Many fans want to talk with him about death. "These are letters I have to take very seriously", the actor convinces with his honest humanity.

But he does not want to overvalue the importance death holds in Vienna. "I know people always talk about a morbid atmosphere here in this city. But I don't feel like that." He sees der Tod as an "androgynous being radiating a tremendous eroticism".

Uwe Kröger, who enjoyed success in Savary's Vom dicken Schwein, das dünn werden wollte, The Rocky Horror Show (Berlin), Starlight Express (Bochum) and in Les Miserables in Vienna, has learned to live with the fuss over himself.

"I know what I want", is his motto, but he does not look on his future through rose-coloured glasses. "It is not true that Hollywood is knocking down my door. But I do receive offers." He still thinks about renewing his Elisabeth contract. The only creature to whom his whole heart definitely belongs will follow Uwe Kröger everywhere: his cat.

A strong handshake. A deep look from his beautiful eyes. A charming smile at the farewell. At last, Uwe did make my heart beat faster.

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