Stephanie Trudeau Returns to Don't Tell Mama with CHAVELA: THINK OF ME
Actor/cabaret singer Stephanie Trudeau will perform a return engagement of her docu-cabaret, "Chavela: Think Of Me," at Don't Tell Mama, 343 West 46th Street, NYC, December 12, 2019 at 7:00 PM. She had debuted the piece at Pangea Supper Club in the East Village, performed at Don't Tell Mama last May and has been invited back in response to the appreciation of her audience. (Please see the review from Pangea.) The piece, written and performed by Ms. Trudeau, is more than just a musical cabaret based on the songs of legendary Mexican singer Chavela Vargas. It is also a documentary theater project that traces the famed ranchera singer's artistic evolution and the key relationships of her life, including those with her musical mentor, Jose Alfredo Jimenez (perhaps the greatest composer of ranchera songs), the painters Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, the great Cuban courtesan Macorina, and the producers, notably Pedro Almodovar, who enabled her comeback at age 72 after a 15 year battle with alcoholism. Trudeau is accompanied by her arranger, David Lahm on piano and by Diego Cebollero on guitar and percussion.
Reviewing the debut performance, Paul Berss (New York Theatre Wire) praised the evening writing, "What a delightful presentation by singer Stephanie Trudeau - a pleasure from start to finish....Pangea obviously knows a good thing when they see it!"
Stephanie Trudeau has been an actress and singer for over 40 years, performing in NYC cabaret, Off-Broadway and regional theater. Recently she had been developing a program of songs written by women, notably Spanish songs her Puerto Rican mother loved that were written by great Latina songwriters including Maria Grever, Maria Teresa Lara, Maria Teresa Vera and Consuelo Velazquez. She discovered Chavela Vargas and as her research on Vargas broadened and deepened, she decided to refocus the project into a program of Spanish songs focused exclusively on this artist. "Chavela: Think Of Me" emerged as part bioplay and part homage--a cabaret show enriched with biographical narrative and illustrated with multimedia. Ms. Trudeau says, "I'm Puerto Rican, but I feel this Mexican singer in my bones." She adds, "What I love about her music is its primal power. It's heart-breaking, wrist-slitting, gut-wrenching. This music has 'tripas'--tripe, guts."
Trudeau's other cabaret shows have included one on the body of work of June Christy, a noted jazz artist who sang in the late 40's, 50's and 60's and whom Trudeau studied as an archivist. This was followed by "Stephanie Trudeau Sings the American Songbook," a recurring attraction at Palmira's Restaurant in Brooklyn Heights and other venues. It was supported by grants from the Brooklyn Arts Council, The Puffin Foundation and NYC Councilman Ken Fisher. Her research into the Giglio Festival in Brooklyn led to her being selected for a nine-month residency in Italy as a Fulbright Scholar for cultural and musicological research connected to three saints' festivals. Her findings from that fellowship just might be reflected in her next show.
Trudeau was a founding member, actor and producer of New Directions Theatre Company (NYC). Her regional theater roles include Winnifred in "Once Upon a Mattress," Mrs. Webb in "Our Town," Amanda in "The Glass Menagerie" and Esther in "The Price." Her on-camera credits include "Law & Order" and various films.
Trudeau's varied experience as a performer, arts educator and scholar informs her cabaret works, in which she combines her warm, earthy alto singing voice with historical and musicological insights on the artists she explores. Her academic accomplishments include studies in Dramatic Arts at University of California Santa Barbara and a major academic paper on the American popular song movement and its canon, which she wrote under the tutelage of her mentor at CUNY, Jeffrey Taylor, Professor of Music at Brooklyn College.
"Chavela: Think Of Me" is characterized as a "docu-cabaret," because it combines stories about the iconic singer Chavela Vargas with performances of key songs of her career. The narration is all in English but Vargas' ranchera songs and Latin American pop hits are sung in Spanish with some translated lyrics. The show is illustrated in multimedia containing historical images of the principal characters and their social and artistic milieu. The show has been partly developed under the eye of Bistro and MAC award winner, Tanya Moberly. Further direction was provided Deborah Wright Houston, who is best known for her work as Artistic Director of the critically acclaimed Kings County Shakespeare Company (1983-2010). Choreography by James Martinelli.
Ranchera is the vocal form of traditional Mariachi music. It's an art form that didn't entirely cross over and make it north, but is distinguished in world music for its canon of potent torch songs of lust, longing, passion and despair. Its premiere composer was Jose Alfredo Jimenez (1926-1973), whose songs are considered an integral part of Mexico's musical heritage. His compositions comprise much of the show's song list.
WHERE AND WHEN
Thursday, December 12, 2019 at 7:00 PM
Don't Tell Mama, 343 West 46th Street, NYC
Tickets $20, plus 2 drink minimum.
Box office: donttellmamanyc.com or 212-757-0788.
Runs one hour. Reviewers are invited.
Artist's website: www.Stephanie-Trudeau.com