Review: ‘Trevor’ is a musical that dares not talk about its theme
Yet despite disengaged and Reagan-obsessed parents at home and goony boys and crazy boys girls at school, Trevor is portrayed as fundamentally happy in his life with the imaginary Ross (Yasmeen Sulieman) and his circle of real outcasts. Walter (Aryan Simhadri) can show her the wrong kind of porn (women wearing lingerie on a farm) and Cathy (Alyssa Emily Marvin) can misunderstand his intentions (she can’t wait to kiss him despite her suspenders), but they tolerate its peculiarities. Cathy has “watched all the Tony Awards with him since 1976”.
Even the school idol, an athlete named Pinky (Sammy Dell), befriends him, encouraging Trevor to choreograph a Tommy Tune-style dance routine for the football team at the annual talent show. . (Josh Prince’s choreography strikes a happy medium between unappealing awkwardness and incredibly smooth.) And although the first act ends with this show imploding – the team performs a different routine instead – the stakes seem dangerously low until it was almost too late to revive them.
What went wrong? In the first place, perhaps turning this material into a musical was not a good idea. Unlike naturalistic films or prose fiction, musicals disperse the point of view of anyone who sings. The tonal subtleties delivered by Trevor’s eyes in the film cannot be contained this way on stage, and so much of the charming naivety of the original becomes vague and sweaty in Dan Collins’ book.
The songs, with lyrics by Collins and music by Julianne Wick Davis, don’t get much better; although professional, they are mostly upbeat and synthetic regardless of the moment, scoring time instead of scoring points. They also face an unfair struggle against the Ross catalog, including hits from hits like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “Upside Down”, “It’s My Turn”, “Endless Love” and, inevitably, ” I’m Coming Out. “
The exceptions to the blandness of the score are revealing. An act in which Pinky teaches Trevor to play HORSE in gym class – including the double-edged “you don’t want to spell it” instruction – is characteristic, specific, and sweet. “One of these days,” Trevor returned, teaching Pinky to imagine what he might look like 10 years from now. The song later returns, poignantly, after Trevor swallows “way too much aspirin” and ends up in the hospital.
It is only in such moments, when the musical recognizes its data, that it comes to life. The scene between Trevor and a candy stripper, apparently gay himself but old enough to have walked through the teenage tunnel, is written as candidly and thoughtfully as you would like.