Friday September 22nd 2017

“Trevor ” The Musical

Highly Recommended ***** I want to thank Michael Halberstam and Kathryn M. Lipuma for bringing the World Premiere of “Trevor” The Musical to their stage at Writers Theatre. This amazing play with music ( I prefer to consider this a “chamber musical”) directed with great style by Marc Bruni takes us into the life of a 13- year- old boy as he goes on a special journey into self-discovery. The time is 1981. Our world is not controlled by the electronics that we live with today. Boys will be boys is what it is all about, until this young man begins to question who and what he is (or might be).

Trevor is brought to life by an amazing young talent, Eli Tokash making his Writers debut, and a sterling debut it is. I already feel that the Jeff people will take notice of this young talent. He is about as perfect as one could ask. In fact, I found the entire cast to be as solid as a theater might assemble for a production like this. Since the story is mostly about Junior High students, it is a cast composed of very young performers, and each and every one shows just how powerful this script is. Based on a film (“Trevor”) with the book and lyrics by Dan Collins and the music by Julianne Wick Davis with a great deal of music from the Diana Ross years, the story takes us deep into the soul of this young man as he searches within himself to know who he really is.

From the very start, we know that Trevor is “different” as we see him in his room, walls covered with posters of his idol, Diana Ross ( Salisha Thomas is sensational in this role) who he believes to be his mentor and who he imitates and believes in more than any other. Trevor wants to prove to his schoolmates that he is a true talent in the upcoming talent show, but is thwarted by the school leaders. The school athletes, each year, do a stupid dance skit and through a chance meeting, Trevor convinces the school “jock” , Pinky (deftly handled by Decian Desmond) that a real dance routine would shake it all up. He is given the job of creating, directing and choreographing the number (which by the way is dynamite), leading to his spending a great deal of time with Pinky.

Not wanting to give away a lot of the details of this story, I will skip some of what takes place, but will share with you that this is a coming- of -age story about self-identity, emerging sexuality and the struggles of growing up in a world that likes everything status-quo and may not be ready for change. After all, this was 1981 and people were forced to hide in the shadows or as they used to say, “in the closet”. FYI- The movie that inspired this MUST SEE play, also inspired the nation’s only accredited crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization that focuses on saving LGBTQ lives, www.TheTrevorProject.org.

The musical director for this exquisite production is by Matt Deitchman and the choreography by Josh Prince is priceless. Writer’s stage is on the small side for musicals, but they have managed to do a few in a row to perfection. Donyale Werle’s set shows creativity and allows us to move from scene to scene with very little wasted time, allowing the flow of the story to keep us involved. Mara Blumenfeld’s costumes are clearly 1980’s and the lighting (Peter Kaczorowski) and sound (Ray Nardelli) along with the props ( Scott Dickens) are what makes the tech side of this show so special.

On the talent side, the entire ensemble, with great energy makes every minute of this two-hours (one 10 minute intermission) of story-telling a very special entertainment and educational experience. One can take a youngster with no fear. They may recognize a friend or even themselves in one or more of the characters, but let’s face it, that is what this is all about. Think back to your youth. Did you ever dance around your room with a record playing in the background? Maybe to “West Side Story”?  Did you have catalogs or magazines hidden somewhere in the room? Did you fear mom or dad coming into your room ?

The adults in the show are played by  Jarrod Zimmerman, Sophie Grimm and Jhardon DiShon (his character, Jack helps to open up Trevor’s eyes after a major incident), but it is the kids that truly carry this show and this story to its great conclusion (you have to see it for yourself): Nathaniel Braga, Ariana Burks, Timothy Eldman, Maya Lou Hlava ( Frannie), Isabel Kaegi, Eloise Lushina, Carly Meyer, Justin O’Brien, Reilly Oh, Jerome Riley, Jr., Matthew Uzarraga ( his Walter, Trevor’s nerdiest friend is adorable) and the even more adorable Tori Whaples as Cathy. FYI- On days when there are two performances, Trevor will be played by Graydon Peter Yosowitz-matinees).

The music is intended to move the story and will not have you humming, but the Diana Ross music such as “Endless Love”, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Do You Know” add to the flavor of the story and his worship of this talent. This play, for many, will be a trip back to your youth. Perhaps, a time when you were confused about where you were going and who you were or what your parents wanted you to be. Much is the same today, just more open and while in this trip, it was a notebook and a personal note that caused some of the problems, today we have “social media”, allowing much more to happen, and mush quicker. Maybe the world of heartache and humanism should be shared with your friends and family and perhaps, as I told some others tonight, this is something that can be shared with a child or grandchild who might be in this phase of their life.

“Trevor” The Musical will continue at Writers Theatre located at 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe thru September 17th ( I anticipate holding it over, but do not count on it) with performances as follows:

Tuesdays  7:30 p.m.

Wednesdays  7:30 p.m. some 2 p.m. matinees

Thursdays  7:30 p.m.

Fridays  7:30 p.m.

Saturdays  3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Sundays  2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Tickets range from $35- $80 and are available at the box office, by calling 847-242-6000 or online at www.writerstheatre.org

Glencoe can be reached by train (Metra stops in town at Dundee Road) – plenty of free parking in the area.

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Trevor” The Musical.

The short film that was the start of this project can be seen  at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CO5uKgTETSI

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