Writers Theatre Presents World Premiere of TREVOR the Musical
The world premiere of TREVOR the musical, based on the 1994 Academy Award winning film.
Photo Credit: Writers Theatre
In 1994, audiences were delighted by the sixteen-minute short film Trevor – the story of a 13-year-old boy with an unshakable passion for Diana Ross discovering and coming to understand his sexuality. The Academy Award winning short film had a huge impact on the LGBT community. Director Peggy Rajski teamed up with fellow filmmakers to found The Trevor Project, a 24/7 crisis and suicide prevention helpline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.
The short film was also the inspiration for TREVOR the musical, premiering at Writers Theatre next month. TREVOR the musical expands on the short, touching story about the struggles of “growing up in a world that may not be ready for you.”
“It’s so specific and so universal all at once. Gay or straight, male or female, even bully or victim, it speaks so beautifully to that adolescent experience of waking up to your emerging adulthood while trying to contextualize it with your childhood self; and within your family and community at large,” said book writer and lyricist Dan Collins. “I think a lot of us tend to put those years into a dusty box and laugh them off whenever they come up, but they were harrowing and exhilarating and devastating and defining.”
While Trevor’s story takes place in 1981, Collins feels that the message of his story rings just as true for today’s youth. “The scope and landscape of communication, and, subsequently, marginalizing an individual, has certainly changed since 1981. But the motives, emotions, fears and confusion fueling those interactions are still the same.”
Actors in the production feel just as strongly about the important message in this show. We got a chance to talk with two members of the cast: Eli Tokash, who plays the title role, and Salisha Thomas, who tackle the iconic role of Diana Ross.
“I have many friends who are LGBTQ+ experiencing what Trevor experienced. The questions, the constant doubting and wanting particular feelings to go away, rather than embracing the feelings,” said Tokash, whose impressive young resume includes Broadway credits in Pippin and Finding Neverland.
“When I first started in this industry, I was a hockey player. Many of my friends questioned me and thought that it wasn't ‘cool’ to be in theatre… Then, my hockey team came to my first musical. They gained a respect and understanding for me and theatre… If I can help people respect others for being different and help my peers get through these difficult teenage years, even just one, I will have done what I believe I'm meant to do.”
Thomas shared similar sentiments about the show’s message. “No matter how hard life gets there is always hope. Everyone feels pain. Everyone. It's part of what makes us human. But knowing that we are not alone and that there is more love around us at all times than we even realize is important in making sure that light at the end of the tunnel keeps getting brighter,” said Thomas.
Thomas is also ecstatic to be given the chance to play such an iconic role. “When I think about Diana Ross, I think dramatic and over the top DIVA! Which translated onstage is SO much fun. But also, she is a real person and she's still alive and doing her thing! And so I think it's important that she comes off as still very likeable. I want to portray the essence of her and have fun with it but still be respectful. For all I know, she could come to the show unannounced! And I definitely want her to like what she sees.”
Writers Theatre’s production of TREVOR the musical runs August 9 – September 17. It’s an inspiring show with a strong message that everyone should see. “It’s so important to look around and ask ourselves: are there ‘Trevors’ in my life,” said Collins. “And what I can I do to help them?”
Tickets are on sale now, and can be purchased by visiting the Writers Theatre Box Office - located at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe, calling 847-242-6000, or visiting online at www.writerstheatre.org.
For more information about The Trevor Project, the nation’s only accredited crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization focused on saving young LGBTQ lives, visit www.thetrevorproject.org.