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Margaret Trudeau and her family

Backstage with Margaret Trudeau at Her Hit One-Woman-Show

Margaret Trudeau is no stranger to fame, but even starring in a solo, autobiographical show was a new one for this Canadian icon!

It’s no surprise to us — and anyone who has heard Margaret speak — that she wowed critics and attendees alike at the premiere of Certain Woman of an Age on the famous Second City stage in Chicago. Our own Mélanie Roy joined Margaret for the debut of her show and shared exclusive behind-the-scenes photos and stories as Margaret prepped, rehearsed, and performed her funny, intimate, and, at times, heart-breaking show.

Margaret Trudeau in Chicago

Margaret’s show was part an exploration of mental illness and part tell-all sharing candid anecdotes from her storied past starring some famous names — Mick Jagger, the Pope, and the Queen to name a few.

From an article in Maclean’s magazine, they say:

Margaret Trudeau, of course, has incredible stories to tell. Her tales are maybe not so different from those of average people in terms of the what, but the who rockets them into a stratosphere of fascinating weirdness.

There was the time she attempted to curtsy to Queen Elizabeth while wearing a “very high, very fabulous” pair of heels, then felt herself keeling over, on the verge of humiliation; the monarch maintained a steely grasp on Trudeau’s hand and, without ever dropping her rope-line smile, wrested her back to a vertical position.

Then there was Pope John Paul II talking politics and faith with Pierre at length, then turning to literally pat Margaret on the head and congratulate her for being blessed with three sons, which led to her furiously disavowing the Catholic Church on the steps of the Pope’s summer palace, Castel Gandolfo.

And in the category of don’t believe everything you see in a photo, “I didn’t even like Mick Jagger,” Trudeau said. “He was an arrogant ass.”

We spoke with Mélanie to learn more.

What was your favourite part of the show?

The most touching moment of the show was towards the end, when she described the last moment she saw her son Michel before he died, swept away by an avalanche. Margaret shared with compassion and grief her love and affection for her beautiful son. There was not a dry eye in the room.

How did the audience respond?

She got rave reviews and feedback after all 4 shows. Each night, I saw a mixture of belly laughter and of sorrowful tears from the audience. It was a beautiful moment to witness. Her show focuses on the importance of opening up about mental health, talking about it, asking for help. She, of course, has had a wonderful and turbulent past, but she has now found a balance living with bi-polar disorder.

How did Margaret feel after the she finished the first run of her show?

Margaret felt over the moon! She’s worked so hard on creating this show and has had the help of an ALL-WOMEN super team: Kimberley Senior, Alix Sobler, and Diane Alexander. She is a true-born actress and performer and has a talent of storytelling.

Media coverage for Margaret’s show has been very positive. The Chicago Tribune called it an “extraordinary night at Second City in Chicago” as they commended Margaret for her bravery and her family for their support. All of her children, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Alexandre Trudeau, as well as their half-siblings Kyle Kemper and Alicia Kemper attended the show during its opening weekend.

What to make of Margaret Trudeau, this enigma in jeans, white blouse, blue shoes, wife of one prime minister, mother of another, developing a show in Chicago? This storyteller, this witness to as much Canadian political history as anyone?

What she is doing here (as much a podcast as a show) seems healthy, somehow, and certainly as revealing as anything you might ever see of the sheer ordinariness of celebrity political families, none of whom can cheat death or avoid hurt or any of the other stuff that makes up our days. Many of those families have contained rebellious but constrained women, forced to play roles for which they were unsuited; most have gone quietly into the night and into the history books.

But for all her clear nervousness, Margaret Trudeau came up with her own story on Saturday night; it was a reclaiming of a narrative that had always been told by others, mostly by men in magazines.

No reasonable person could begrudge her that nor feel anything but relief that changed times make it possible, if hardly commonplace and even now. And her children coming, openly and en masse, to listen speaks inestimably well of them as human beings.

Maclean’s magazine congratulated Margaret for her ability to quickly captivate her audience.

When the show started, Trudeau literally leaped out of the wings to land on stage: ta-da, here’s Margaret! Her entrance, like the entire show, felt like an exercise in choosing, directing and using the spotlight that had burned her earlier in life.

“Maybe you heard whispers about me,” she said, cupping her hands around her mouth and leaning conspiratorially toward the audience to hiss, “Margaret is crazy!” Then she continued cheerfully: “You don’t have to whisper. I was crazy!” The audience was hers.

The National Post shared the audience’s positive response to the show:

As the applause faded and the audience made its way to the exits, a couple of younger women gushed that they had totally gotten it about the overspending. Nearby, an adorable older woman could be heard telling her companions how much she liked the show, sex drugs and all. “We all have stories.” Laughing, she admitted her own weren’t as wild. “But you know, she gets up, and she speaks, and I think she delivers it well.”

And the Post Millennial had a simple but effective one-liner to describe their experience:

…she’s a remarkable woman with one hell of a story to tell.

It was just announced this week that Montreal will be the next stop for Margaret and her one-woman-show. She’ll make her Canadian debut as part of the Just for Laughs festival on July 25-27 at the Gesù.

Margaret Trudeau is celebrated both for her role in the public eye and as a respected mental health advocate. From becoming a prime minister’s wife at a young age, to the loss of both her son and her former husband, to living with bi-polar disorder, Margaret tirelessly shares her personal stories to remind others of the importance of nurturing the body, mind, and spirit.

Interested in learning more about Margaret and what she can bring to your next event? Email us at info@speakers.ca.