Still, there’s something sweet and universal about the plight of Trevor, the 13-year-old boy at its core, and even more so Holden William Hagelberger, the Sugar Land, Texas teen chosen to play him after a nationwide search.
The fact that Hagelberger is the same age as the character and looks it makes the whole exercise more impactful, as he impressively sings, dances and emotionally wrestles with his character’s new and confusing crush on classmate Pinky (Sammy Dell), baring his soul to his diary and the imagined Ross (Yasmeen Sulieman), who appears to him with words of encouragement in glittering gowns.
Set in 1981, a timeframe established by the fact that Trevor’s tone-deaf parents are preoccupied by the assassination attempt on President Reagan, “Trevor” nicely captures the period, when, the survival mechanism for LGBTQ youth was not coming out but hiding. Even so, Trevor can’t help trying to express himself, leaping at the chance to choreograph an appearance by the basketball team at a school rally, wanting to do something more fabulous than have them simply appear in drag.
Mostly, the preparation for that event gives Trevor an opportunity/excuse to hang around with Pinky, although that spells danger for him on a variety of fronts, drawing attention from the cruel and popular kids while alienating his nerdy friends (Aryan Simhadri and Alyssa Emily Marvin), who join him in a triangle of hopeless teen crushes.
With a book and lyrics by Dan Collins and music by Julianne Wick Davis, “Trevor” leads toward the exposure of Trevor’s feelings, and the crushing weight that places upon him. Hagelberger is particularly strong in those sequences, and when he tears down his Ross posters in a desperate attempt to be “normal” (“I tried to cure myself, but nothing worked”), your heart breaks for him.
Disney also has a long and rich tradition of musicals, with “Hamilton” making a major streaming splash during the pandemic and “Better Nate Than Ever” recently joining its younger-demo roster that includes franchises like “High School Musical” and “Zombies.”
Setting aside other considerations, “Trevor” marks a nice addition to that queue. And yes, an important one, too.
“Trevor: The Musical” premieres June 24 on Disney+.