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Stephanie Trudeau to Return to Don't Tell Mama With BECOMING CHAVELA


The show is a documentary theater project that traces the famed ranchera singer's artistic evolution and her relationships with her musical mentor Jose Alfredo Jimenez.

Stephanie Trudeau to Return to Don't Tell Mama With BECOMING CHAVELA

Actor/cabaret singer Stephanie Trudeau will return to Don't Tell Mama, 343 W. 46th Street, on December 30 at 7:00 PM in the updated version of her docu-cabaret musical, "Becoming Chavela." Written and performed by Ms. Trudeau, the piece 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 her relationships with her musical mentor Jose Alfredo Jimenez (the world's greatest composer of ranchera songs), the painters Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, the great Cuban courtesan Macorina, and producer Pedro Almodovar, who enabled the singer's comeback at age 72 after a 15 year battle with alcoholism. Trudeau is accompanied by Ben Lapidus on guitar and percussion. Director is Tanya Moberly.

The show won a 2020 Bistro Award for Outstanding Achievement: Tribute Show. This year a newly revised edition, which took stage at Don't Tell Mama November 22, prompted Andrew Poretz (Theater Pizzazz) to deem it a "winner that has the potential to be a much bigger show. Trudeau has a wealth of source material that deserves to be seen, and it will be a pleasure to hear Stephanie Trudeau sing again, in any language."

"Becoming Chavela" not only dramatizes the singer's life, but also examines the culture of Latin America's "golden age" from the 1930's through the 1960's. The narration and enactment of the singer's life story is in English, but Vargas' ranchera songs and Latin American pop hits are sung in Spanish with some translated lyrics. The piece is illustrated in multimedia containing historical images of the principal characters, the art world and social milieu of mid-century Mexico City when it was the cultural capital of Latin America.

Stephanie Trudeau has been an actress and singer for over 40 years, performing in NYC cabaret, Off-Broadway and regional theater. She had been developing a program of songs written by women, notably Spanish songs her Puerto Rican mother loved. These included songs by Maria Grever, Maria Teresa Lara, Maria Teresa Vera and Consuelo Velazquez. Discovering Chavela Vargas , she decided to refocus the project into a program focused exclusively on this artist. "Becoming Chavela" emerged as part bioplay and part homage--a cabaret show enriched with biographical narrative and enactment, Mexican songs 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. This music has 'tripas'--tripe, guts." Trudeau explains she was also intrigued because Chavela's life story evokes so many of today's hot topics: gender issues, gay rights, immigration and Mexican culture.

Initially, the show was partly developed under the eye of director Deborah Wright Houston, who is best known for her work as Artistic Director of the critically-acclaimed Kings County Shakespeare Company (1983-2010). It show debuted at Pangea in 2017, where it was invited back for a return engagement. The show has subsequently evolved through engagements at Beyond Baroque in Los Angeles in 2019 and at Don't Tell Mama in 2019 and 2021, where it was directed by Tanya Moberly.


Stephanie 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. Her 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 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.


Thursday, Dec. 30 at 7:00 PM

Don't Tell Mama (Brick Room), 343 West 46th Street 10036

$20 cover plus two drink minimum (cash only)

Box office: (212) 757-0788,

Runs one hour. Reviewers are invited.

Artist's website:

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