Trevor the Musical

Started by Diane, Sep 03, 2017, 09:18 am

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Diane

Writer's Theatre in Glencoe, IL is presenting the World Premiere of Trevor the Musical, based on the Academy Award winning short film about a gay teenager who attempts suicide.  (The makers of the film also started a hotline specifically for LGBT teenagers). The show was created by a group called U Rock Theatricals, who recruited a writing team: Dan Collins and Julianne Wick Davis.   I have some slight acquaintance with the writers, who were involved with the administration of the GPWMT at NYU when my son attended. I also saw a previous show of theirs, Southern Comfort, at the Public Theater last year. 

I'm not sure how Trevor ended up at Writer's Theater for what is clearly intended to be just the first step in its professional life.  The director, Mark Bruni, and the choreographer, Josh Prince, both worked on Beautiful in NY, and the energy and movement of Trevor reminded me of the rapid scene shifts and momentum of Beautiful.   The music director, however is a young and busy guy who was Will's classmate at Northwestern:  Matt Deitchman.   The cast is from the Chicago area, with the exception of the lead, Eli Tokash, who has Broadway credits as Peter Llewelyn Davies in Neverland and Theo in Pippin. He was excellent, playing an endearingly naive 13 year old who knows little about sex (the show is set in the early 80s). I thought he really sold Trevor's cluelessness.

As Trevor moved toward being outed and mocked by his classmates, I wondered how the show would darken its ebullient tone, yet keep up the energy, and I have to say they did so very well, with a dark yet funny musical number at the top of Act II and a well choreographed number at the middle school where the other students openly reject him. But even more crucially, I wondered how the suicide attempt would be portrayed and then, in theatrical terms, recovered from.   (By the way, there is a sign in the lobby warning that the play contains "self-harm," so I'm not spoiling the plot).   Here, I think, is the weak spot of the show.  Trevor's emotional recovery takes place in one scene, through a conversation with an understanding adult.  Then he goes back--to the same school--and things are ok.

The score is very lively and provides some unexpected moments, with an essentially rock vibe suited to the ages of the characters. There are also interpolated songs by an actress playing Diana Ross, Trevor's idol. Other than Diana Ross and two actors who play any needed adults (parents, gym teacher, etc) the cast are all meant to be young teens.

The biggest surprise to me was that there was no real Trevor.   He has always been a fictional character, originally created by James Lecesne for a one man show called Word of Mouth.