Mar­garet Trudeau takes the stage

The Prince George Citizen - - A&E -

Mar­garet Trudeau, the ex-wife of one Cana­dian prime min­is­ter and the mother of an­other, has lived much of her life in a fish­bowl. At one time, ev­ery­thing from her love life (pur­ported flings with Ted Kennedy, Jack Nicholson and a Rolling Stone) to the hem­line of her dresses (too short for the White House, ap­par­ently) was fod­der for the tabloids and a Canada thirsty for celebri­ties.

Now 70, she’s invit­ing the at­ten­tion that once tor­mented her. The mother of Canada’s cur­rent prime min­is­ter, Justin Trudeau, and the for­mer wife of his late fa­ther, Pierre, she’s took her soul-bar­ing, onewoman au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal show to Montreal on Thurs­day for its Cana­dian pre­miere. In Cer­tain Woman of an Age, Trudeau dis­cusses her mar­riages and divorces, per­sonal tragedy – the 1998 death of son Michel – and her sub­se­quent di­ag­no­sis with bipo­lar dis­or­der and ad­vo­cacy for men­tal health.

But is it the right mo­ment to tell all? The show de­buts less than three months be­fore Canada’s fed­eral elec­tion, as her son, whose Lib­eral Party trails in some polls, fights for his po­lit­i­cal life.

Did she con­sider post­pon­ing, or ton­ing the act down? She laughs.

“Are you kid­ding me?” she said in a phone in­ter­view from Montreal. “I’m so proud of Justin be­ing the prime min­is­ter. But I’ve been there, done that. I don’t think any­body who is in his of­fice would dare to call mama Mar­garet and tell her what she can or can­not do.”

Justin Trudeau has seen the show, in Chicago, where it de­buted in May.

“He thought her per­for­mance was great,” said Eleanore Cate­naro, his spokes­woman.

Cer­tain Woman of an Age has been well re­viewed. The Chicago Tri­bune called it “grip­ping, charm­ing and in­tensely coura­geous.” The con­ser­va­tive Na­tional Post, of­ten crit­i­cal of her son, praised Trudeau for “mak­ing mo­ments of a life­time of celebrity re­lat­able to many in the crowd.” Maclean’s mag­a­zine noted that the au­di­ence “seemed to thor­oughly en­joy” it­self.

Now comes a brief run at the Just for Laughs fes­ti­val in Montreal, where Trudeau now lives.

She was ap­proached about do­ing an au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal show a year and a half ago.

“While my life has looked so glam­orous and fun, and I can name drop all kinds of peo­ple who have been on my path along the way, es­sen­tially, it’s a play about fac­ing your own fears and over­com­ing the stigma of men­tal ill­ness,” she said. “I’m kind of a bit of a dire warn­ing.”

In Canada, to be the part­ner of the prime min­is­ter is to as­sume a staid and some­what am­bigu­ous role. Un­like first ladies in the United States, they do not have of­fi­cial ti­tles, for­mal re­spon­si­bil­i­ties or large staffs. Many fly un­der the radar.

“Mag­gie,” as the press liked to call her, was an ex­cep­tion.

The daugh­ter of a cab­i­net min­is­ter, she was 19 when she first met the debonair Pierre El­liott Trudeau – 29 years her se­nior – while va­ca­tion­ing in Tahiti with her par­ents.

She ad­mired his “per­fectly toned” legs, she wrote in Chang­ing My Mind, her 2010 mem­oir, but her first thought was “that he was old, with old skin and old toes.”

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