Trevor: The Musical: Show Review by Robin Gorman Newman


(Photo credit: Joan Marcus)

Endearing and engaging are just two of the words that come to mind for the new show, Trevor: The Musical, that just opened at Stage 42 in NYC.

Heading the 19 member company is 13 year old very likeable, charismatic Holden William Hagelberger from Sugarland, Texas, who plays “Trevor” and was discovered in a wide search including a national virtual casting call resulting in over 1300 submissions.

Trevor, who wears his admiration for idol Diana Ross both on his sleeve and walls, struggles to fit in. He’s a non-jock who has not found his peeps, short of Walter (played effectively by Aryan Simhadri), who hangs out with him in his bedroom doing offbeat science experiments including examining sperm under a microscope and lusting after models on tractors in a catalog his mother received.  Trevor has an eye for the men but conceals his preference. When Trevor’s parents find a page from the catalog under his bed featuring a beefy guy, they attempt to have a conversation with Trevor about their suspicions, but it never goes anywhere. Given that the show is set in 1981, the fact that Trevor is flamboyantly gay is an especially tough potential nut to swallow for both his fellow students and parents.

Trevor aspires to take to the stage in the school talent show, but when he’s told there’s no place for him, he avails himself to the basketball team who hesitate but then bring him on board to choreograph a splashy number for them that would be a welcome departure from the jocks’ traditional farcical pink tutus.  Things take an unexpected turn when Trevor’s private notebook gets shared and his crush on Pinky is revealed. Trevor is left mortified and depressed as Pinky turns against him in a scathingly public way, and the song ‘n dance routine Trevor was hoping would put him on the popularity map, gets chucked last minute for tutus once again.

Act 2 sees Trevor make a failed attempt at suicide with pills. When he awakes in the hospital, by his side is Jack, a male candy striper, played by Aaron Alcaraz (in great voice), in a short but memorable turn that is hugely heartfelt.  Their duet packs an emotional punch, and we feel like Trevor has found an angel in him delivering a message of strength that his future self desperately needs to hear.

In the glam, guiding goddess-like role of Diana Ross, Yasmeen Suleman is a knockout on every level and channels Ross with aplomb. Sammy Dell as Pinky, the pretty boy jock, is genuinely affecting in his more quiet, revealing moments when he shares with Trevor and their friendship blossoms.

Alyssa Emily Marvin as Cathy, who has a mad crush on Trevor, adds a welcome touch of humor, particularly as she readily inserts her fingers in her mouth to pop off the rubber bands on her braces when getting poised for a hopeful makeout session.

The winning cast also features Mark Aguirre, Ava Briglia, Tyler Joseph Gay, Ellie Kim, Colin Konstanty, Brigg Liberman, Diego Lucano,  Isabel Medina, Echo Deva Picone, Dan Rosales, Aryan Simhadri, Yasmeen Sulieman, Sally Wilfert, Aeriel Williams, and Jarrod Zimmerman. There is no weak link especially among the impressive teens, and what a pleasure to see age appropriate actors in the roles, vs adults playing young.

Trevor: The Musical features a book and lyrics by Dan Collins (Southern Comfort) and music by Julianne Wick Davis (Southern Comfort). Direction is by Marc Bruni (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) and choreography is by Josh Prince (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical).

The creative team includes scenic designer Donyale Werle (Peter and the Starcatcher – Tony Award); costume designer Mara Blumenfeld (Metamorphoses); lighting designer Peter Kaczorowski (Choir Boy); sound designers Brian Ronan (Mrs. Doubtfire, Tootsie) and Cody Spencer (Tootsie); music director Matt Deitchman (Writers Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); orchestrator Greg Pliska (Sylvia); and casting by Tara Rubin Casting (Ain’t Too Proud).

The choreography is energetic, and the set and staging are eye-catching, including the inventive use of a bed.

The musical combo of Diana Ross hits and original pop and ballads by Collins and Wick Davis offers an entertaining mix of the familiar and new.

The show is based on the Academy Award-winning short film Trevor directed by Peggy Rajski, produced by Randy Stone and written by Celeste Lescense. While I have not seen the film, so cannot compare, the musical is a genuine pleaser and one that delivers important messages re: bullying and intolerance that more than ever ring true. And, despite the underlying heaviness of the subject, we are not weighed down, and it ends with hope….something we all need a dose of these days.

The Trevor Project, founded by Peggy Rajski, Randy Stone and Celeste Lecesne, was launched following the Trevor film and is not affiliated with the musical. It is the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people.

The musical runs 2 hours, 15 minutes, with one intermission, and is playing thru April 17th. Visit TrevorTheMusical.com and www.Telecharge.com to purchase tickets, or the theatre box office.

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