From Michael Halberstam, Artistic Director
One of the primary goals of building a new home for Writers Theatre was to truly establish ourselves as a place where new work could be developed. One of the centerpieces of our mission statement has been nurturing the process of bringing fresh dramatic voices to our audiences and beyond. We’ve had a healthy history so far; our premieres have journeyed on to many national institutions and enjoyed successful productions in New York and in regional theatres around the nation.
One of the centerpieces of our mission statement has been nurturing the process of bringing fresh dramatic voices to our audiences and beyond.
Musicals have always been a crucial part of that conversation for me, but I look for a special kind of musical! By special, I mean that the piece should be complex and sophisticated, and the music and book should combine to give audiences a heightened theatrical and poetic experience. TREVOR is no exception to that rule and our production of it escalates the degree to which Writers Theatre is participating in the national conversation. We are delighted to be partnering with U Rock Theatricals, a group of energetic young producers, who are hoping to create a new generation of intelligent and relevant musicals, ultimately for Broadway audiences. Their team has nurtured this piece from inception to its current form and we are very grateful that they chose Writers Theatre to partner with in bringing it to life. One significant lure in choosing to collaborate with U Rock on TREVOR was the inclusion of Marc Bruni as director. Marc is one of the most respected names in the industry and he comes by his reputation honestly. He is a wonderful director and a simply lovely gentleman. He has assembled a superb design team that includes Writers Theatre favorite Mara Blumenfeld as Costume Designer and Tony Award-winning Donyale Werle as Set Designer.
So why TREVOR? What is TREVOR? This musical was based on a short Academy Award-winning film written by James Lecesne and directed by Peggy Rajski in 1994 (you can watch it on YouTube). It tells the story of a teenage boy on the cusp of puberty discovering that he is gay, and subsequently experiencing significant bullying from his peers. The film was so successful that it launched a national program called The Trevor Project, which provides a resource for emergent LGBTQ teens who are at risk in their communities. According to The Trevor Project, “suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24; the rate of suicide attempts is four times greater for LGB youth and two times greater for questioning youth than that of straight youth. Suicide attempts by LGB youth and questioning youth are four to six times more likely to result in injury, poisoning, or overdose that requires treatment from a doctor or nurse, of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt, with 92% of these individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25. These statistics are daunting and terrifying, and they are just the beginning of how serious a problem this is. With the bifurcation that happened culturally in the latest election cycle, these statistics have only worsened.
TREVOR comes face to face with this dilemma in a way that is fresh and honest—even charming and witty. The end result is deeply emotionally satisfying and filled with great empathy.
Teen sexuality has always been an issue that has troubled our nation. In the same way that young people do not want to acknowledge that their parents are sexually active, most parents try to avoid the sexuality of their children, in large part because the consequences can be so dire. That said, the consequences of ignoring, or worse, fighting or suppressing the emergent sexual vocabulary of our nation’s youth can result in disaster. TREVOR comes face to face with this dilemma in a way that is fresh and honest—even charming and witty. The end result is deeply emotionally satisfying and filled with great empathy.
Our literary guides for this exploration are book writer Dan Collins and composer Julianne Wick Davis. They have tapped into their subject matter with a remarkable degree of sensitivity and authenticity (that the cast is primarily composed of actual teenagers is an essential ingredient in bringing the story from screen to stage). The challenge of a book writer is being disciplined enough to set up the songs, which means not over-writing and having the courage to bridge between numbers. The challenge of writing a score is creating a memorable and cohesive musical vocabulary that resonates with the audience and leaves us with the desire to hear them again and again. I think you will be happy with the results.