‘Trevor’ Is a Gay Teen on the Edge. Luckily, Diana Ross Is There Too.

In some methods it feels odd as an grownup to look at the musical Trevor: the Musical, which opened tonight in New York (reserving to April 17, 2022 at Stage 42). It appears tonally prefer it’s actually geared toward youngsters or youngsters, whose world it facilities. The mother and father and adults loom massive as cartoon cutouts, and the motion takes place principally in class halls and children’ bedrooms.

For a musical a few 13-year-old homosexual child concurrently determinedly being himself and struggling soul-destroying homophobia, it additionally has a tough time truly saying each this stuff out loud. It edges round all the problems it’s actually about. The subtlety is meant to be embracing, I suppose, however it feels frustratingly timid. The makers might say their present is ready in 1981, and issues had been definitely completely different then. However the present is a few younger queer child, and appears to be geared toward youngsters of now, so it actually would profit from being extra blatant and blunt.

The musical is derived from the 1995 Academy Award-winning quick movie Trevor, from which grew the much-valued Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and disaster intervention group for LGBTQ younger individuals. (The musical just isn’t affiliated with the non-profit.) Regardless of social progress, the Trevor Project helps younger LGBTQ people who find themselves nonetheless being remoted, rejected, and bullied due to their sexual and gender identities—and so it’s precious to have a stage present like Trevor highlighting an ongoing, piercing subject. Be aware to producers: Given the extent of legislative attacks geared toward them proper now, it might be good to see the same venture centered on trans teens.

Perhaps its makers intend Trevor (Holden William Hagelberger) to be an all-purpose completely different child. He’s very camp, candy, clever, already over the absurd and constraining world round him. However the place an grownup viewers may learn “assured homosexual child,” the musical reminds us that Trevor truly, like many individuals (particularly youngsters), just isn’t certain what he’s and certain as hell hasn’t put any sort of label on something. He hasn’t assumed any id. Hagelberger has wonderful power; he throws himself across the stage, he’s humorous, sharp, he doesn’t endure fools. In the beginning of the present, he doesn’t appear hobbled by anguish.

His hero is Diana Ross, and the present’s standout efficiency is by Yasmeen Sulieman enjoying Ross as a dream determine, shelling out knowledge by way of snatches of her songs, and wearing one sequin-shimmering knockout robe after one other by costumer Mara Blumenfeld.

Trevor modifications because it progresses—and the character of the change is darker and extra dramatic than viewers may count on. He falls in love and lust, all smooshed collectively, with the college jock Pinky (Sammy Dell), and awfulness ensues when a few malign bullies scheme to drive him over the sting.

Earlier than we get to that time the musical maintains the cheer of a pep rally with pumped-up songs and choreography, as Trevor rallies the college jocks, together with Pinky, to carry out in a tune and dance revue. At this stage, Trevor as character and musical appears to be flying above typical boundaries and classifications, whose queerness is triumphant and undefined—and transformative for these round him. However then issues take a flip, and when Trevor’s crush on Pinky is revealed, and he finds himself remoted and teased in school, his ideas flip to ending his life.

Right here, the musical modifications fully—and goes to an appositely darkish place, hospital mattress and all. There’s a touching dialog with a form nurse, and a far too hurried decision, which most egregiously lets Trevor’s persecutors nearly fully off the hook. Not less than let the homosexual child have a superb old school revenge please in opposition to the villains, he doesn’t need to be noble on a regular basis!

“It bravely units out to confront one thing, then shies from the darkness of the confrontation.”

It’s comprehensible that the creators of the musical don’t take the musical down the total darkish route, and see Trevor finish his life. The message, rightly, is that LGBTQ youngsters ought to, should, reside. However one wonders in regards to the dramatic and audience-confrontational potentialities the extra brutal story flip would have yielded.

As it’s, the present doesn’t handle the magnitude of Trevor’s try and take his personal life, and the bullying that led to it. There are common discussions about valuing your self, and embracing some sort of future. It’s all very Oprah meets after-school particular. That’s precious, after all, and Trevor is restored to his assured self on the finish, trying forward and to recent potentialities.

Sammy Dell, left middle, Holden William Hagelberger, proper, and the corporate of “Trevor: The Musical.”

Joan Marcus

However given the gravity of the musical’s themes, it additionally tiptoes round these themes. It bravely units out to confront one thing, then shies from the darkness of the confrontation. When you’ve got seen a present just like the sensible Beautiful Thing on display screen and stage, which tackles comparable themes, you are feeling the dramatic lack in Trevor.

My grownup disappointment in how meek Trevor is as a present was balanced by the sight of the mother and pop in entrance of me with their child, all three of them completely engrossed, and likewise mother and pop watching their child for his or her responses, and sometimes squeezing their arm with reassurance or recognition.

They weren’t alone. There have been different households and younger individuals there too. And so possibly Trevor is doing one thing way more vital, when it comes to offering a way of belonging, or in Trevor himself as a determine on stage talking very on to the younger individuals the present appears to be addressing. Wherever Trevor falls quick as a chunk of theater could also be greater than offset by the great it’s doing.

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