It's Judy for Xmas with Connie Champagne

  • by David-Elijah Nahmod
  • Tuesday November 29, 2022
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Connie Champagne (photo: Kent Taylor)
Connie Champagne (photo: Kent Taylor)

It wouldn't be Christmas in San Francisco unless chanteuse extraordinaire Connie Champagne brings her annual Judy Garland holiday show to Martuni's. The singer will in fact be holding court as Judy in "It's Judy for Xmas" on December 10 and 11 at 7pm.

The evening promises to be filled with a plethora of Judy delights. Known for her uncanny ability to recreate the spirit of Garland, Champagne will be performing classic holiday favorites like "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" which Garland immortalized in the film "Meet Me in St. Louis" (1944). Champagne will be accompanied by Daniel Fabricant on bass and Barry Lloyd at the keyboard.

Though Champagne is famous for channeling Garland, it wasn't the legendary singer who inspired Champagne to be a performer. In an interview with the Bay Area Reporter Champagne recalled that her original inspiration came from The Beatles. Growing up in the 1970s near Sacramento, it was rock and roll that touched Champagne's heart.

She would sing to herself in her room and recalls being woken up by her mother when she was 13 to watch David Bowie on "The Midnight Special," a rock-oriented variety show of the period.

"Bowie would have been my biggest influence because he was so unique, an actor who sang," Champagne said. "As he did his mime thing, Mom gushed, 'Look, he's had acting training.' I rolled my eyes, but nevertheless, that performance changed my life. My inner weirdo emerged, no more Marcia Brady outfits for me."

Champagne quit cheerleading and changed schools to one with a drama department.

"Through Bowie, I discovered Iggy Pop, and he was by far my biggest influence," she said.

Judy's Gay Appeal

Judy Garland remains a classic and enduring gay icon more than fifty years after her death. Champagne addressed the singer's appeal to the queer community.

"I guess she was so much fun," Champagne said. "That's what I'm told. She had that fabulously gay sense of humor and yet she was terribly naive or maybe in denial, at least in her personal life. But there's no denying, she connected deeply with her audience, and it seems that she really felt their pain."

Champagne has often been told that she's very good at performing as Garland.

"I'm an actor who has been hopefully typecast," she said. "But if you have to be typecast, Judy Garland is not a bad one to be typecast as. I hope to make the holidays fun and sentimental for people who love Christmas and also for people who loathe it. Yes, I hope to bring them in for a wacky holiday show. It really is for everybody."

Connie Champagne's 'It's Judy for Xmas,' $40. December 10 and 11, 7pm at Martuni's, 4 Valencia St.

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