Book and Lyrics by Dan Collins.
Music by Julianne Wick Davis.
Based on the Academy-Award-winning film Trevor.
Directed by Marc Bruni.
At Writers Theatre, Glencoe.
Musical Hits Just the Right Note.
Writer’s Theatre never disappoints. From the moment of entering the
starkly modern, architecturally fascinating new venue in Glencoe, to
enjoying the always-talented cast, to the introduction of exceptional
material, it can and often does create a shining theatrical experience.
Trevor is a prime example.
This outstanding world premier musical, based on an Oscar-winning short
film, tells a coming of age story of a 13 year old struggling with his
sexual identity. While it is set in 1981 and times have changed, there is
still a universal recognition for all who have experienced the angst of
youth and remember the pain of being an outsider, the isolation of being
different. So important is the story that response to this brief film
(only 17 minutes in length) led to the Trevor Project — “the leading
national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention
services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning young
people ages 13-24.” (www.TheTrevorProject.org and the film can be seen at
It takes creative genius to work this material into a musical — and
Writer’s theatre deserves kudos for tackling this ambitious project, and
succeeding. Eli Tokash stars as Trevor, a sensitive, creative youngster
who loves Diana Ross, theater, and basketball player Pinky Faraday (Declan
Desmond). His goal is to be part of a school review where the athletic
basketball players usually dress up in pink tutus and cavort before an
appreciative teen audience. This year, Trevor has great hopes for them to
achieve something more artistic and persuades them to let him direct their
performance. One of the highlights of the musical is the scene contrasting
what the clumsy athletes can actually do with canes and top hats and what
Trevor imagines they are capable of achieving — as demonstrated by his
fantasy of shimmering dancers. This show-stopping moment, a tribute to
choreographer Josh Prince, is a microcosm of the play — the discrepancy
between reality and imagination — what is and what might be.
The play is laced with daydreams, as Diana Ross (glamorous Salisha Thomas)
in various vivid costumes intermittently emerges as muse and mentor,
singing some of her most memorable songs —“Endless Love,” “I’m Coming
Out,” and “Remember Me.” Trevor matches her, mouthing words and gestures
in the privacy of his bedroom before often being interrupted by a mother
(Sophie Grimm) who always fails to knock before entering. She and his
father (Jarrod Zimmerman) as well as a Catholic priest (also played by
Zimmerman), gradually become aware of Trevor’s dilemma, but are
ineffectual in helping him.
The school staging is fascinating, as the teens, carrying chairs, arrange
and rearrange them with verve and precision creating changing classroom
patterns. Kudos to scenic designer Donyale Werle and costume designer Mara
Blumenfield. An excellent orchestra conducted by Matt Deitchman provides
music for the 25 clever song and dance numbers.
Tokash captures the magical innocence of Trevor, his initial delight as he
records thoughts and feelings in his daily journal. Then come betrayal,
awakening, self-knowledge, and despair. Act II is darker than the first
act, although still handled with great sensitivity as it moves towards the
final message: Everyone deserves a future and to feel that his or her life
matters. It is a positive assertion. Trevor is not a victim.
Beverly Friend, PHD, member American Critics Association.
Writer’s Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glenoe,847-242-600,
www.writerstheatre.org, tickets $35-$80, 7:30 pm Tuesdays through
Thursdays, 3 and 7 pm Saturday, 2 and 6 pm Sundays, some 3 pm Wednesday
matinees, run time 2 hours and 10 minutes with a 15 minute intermission,
through Sept 17.
Note: This production is intended for audiences aged 13 and up and
contains themes of sexuality and self-harm.