Turning a 15-minute Oscar-winning short into a two-act musical is no simple feat, but Julianne Wick Davis and Dan Collins were up for the challenge. Inspired by Celeste Lecesne and Peggy Rajski’s film Trevor, Wick Davis and Collins wanted to expand the universe of the title character—allowing audiences to see the world through his imaginative 13-year-old eyes.
In the show, which began previews October 25 at Stage 42 Off-Broadway ahead of a November 10 opening, Trevor’s imagination unfolds in front of the audience. “We get to turn these fantastical moments into some exciting theatre,” composer Wick Davis explains. And even though the musical is set in 1981, audiences can expect to see a recognizable journey of self-discovery play out on stage. “The dynamics and the eco-system of middle school hasn’t changed much over the last forty decades years,” she adds.
While the musical itself is set in '80s, the composer describes the score as a contemporary pop musical with some Diana Ross sprinkled throughout (Trevor is obsessed with the diva). “It’s probably unfair to say that the show sounds like Trevor, but…he is such a driving force in the narrative, and Julianne’s music is so wonderfully driven by character and story, that it truly feels like a sound that is a world unto itself,” says book writer and lyricist Collins.
The pair started working on the musical in 2014 with several readings before a 2017 world premiere at the Writer’s Theatre in Chicago. “Trevor is a theatre kid. The stage is his home and his dream come true,” says Collins. “In fact, one of the first things that attracted me to this story was the opportunity to bring this character to life on a stage.”
From the beginning, Trevor has been an evolution. “We learned so much from our audiences in that production and began to really deepen the journey that the character, Trevor, experiences in the show,” says Wick Davis. Even during the pandemic, the pair were writing new material, both for the script and the score. “We explored a lot of different ideas that, even if they didn’t ultimately make it into the current draft, gave us further insight into the piece,” adds Collins. “Just knowing that we’ve now traveled some roads and followed the threads of certain ideas to their conclusion is such a valuable foundation to be standing on.”