The curtains open on a young man in Paris.
It’s 1947, and Pierre Trudeau is a university student cruising boulevards on his Harley Davidson, completely free from the expectations that will one day come down on him.
Trudeaumania, an original musical theatre production coming to the Vancouver Fringe Festival this September, tells the story of Pierre Trudeau’s life and rise to power — from the well-known historical events to the lesser-known personal stories.
The majority of the play focuses around the period between 1968 and the early 1970s, “the most interesting period of [Trudeau’s] life, dramatically,” according to playwright and director Daniel McLeod.
From his rise to Prime Minister in 1968 at the height of “Trudeaumania” to the October Crisis in 1970, when Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act, “it was a turbulent time for Canada,” said McLeod.
Although the major plot points will be familiar for most Canadians, the actors will also portray the personal stories that didn’t make the major headlines at the time. The play delves into the character of Margaret Trudeau, played by Cloverdale’s Katrina Teitz, and shows her “as a real character, rather than a stereotype that was given in the press at that time,” said McLeod.
| Cloverdale’s Katrina Teitz
Teitz said it was interesting to see how the media spoke about Margaret and how she is perceived now. “She is a strong woman who was ahead of her time,” she said.
In Trudeaumania, Margaret’s story begins when “she falls in love with this man, the Prime Minister of Canada, and becomes his wife,” she explained. “From that moment on she is held to the standard of just that — Pierre’s wife. While he lives this lavish rock-star life of being a very popular politician, she is changed from flower child to mother of three, and is trapped inside this person she didn’t want to conform to.”
“She’s feisty and funny and she knows what she wants. She gets swept up in this life that is full of love, but she ends up compromising a lot. I feel like a lot of girls can relate to her,” she said. “I think women like Margaret who had a much harder time being independent should be celebrated.”
The nine-member cast also play celebrities and politicians of the time, including Barbra Streisand, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and Richard Nixon, and detail their interactions with Pierre Trudeau through drama and song.
The multimedia musical includes 20 original songs, ranging from hip hop to tango. The audience will hear everything from country rock “with a little Elvis touch thrown in” to rock operas “with echoes of Phantom of the Opera,” said McLeod.
“It covers quite a number of genres and taps into popular music of the time,” he said.
The 90-minute piece will be “a non-stop visual and auditory event,” he promised. “We’re looking for no flat periods. Drama. Sound. Comedy. Action. From start to finish. That’s what I think it should be all about.”
There will be eight performances of Trudeaumania, from September 7 to 16, at the Firehall Arts Centre in Vancouver. For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit tickets.vancouverfringe.com.