Pride Month is the perfect time to watch this movie based on a stage show as it is moving and emotional. It’s a tough subject that isn’t difficult to watch thanks to a pleasing score and a lovable cast of young teens. What makes it special is a young teen from Texas who drew on his own very real experiences to bring Trevor to life.
For Holden, William Hagelberger represents more than just his first big job in this story about a boy who is in love with another boy. At a special showing of the film at a movie theater on 42nd Street, I asked him, “Did you experience how your character causes misery in high school?”
“Yes,” Holden replied. “I was bullied all through school, even elementary school.”
Growing up just outside of Houston, Hagelberger was tormented for being different, and the lead role in “Trevor: The Musical” brought back all these bad memories. “We actually had to stop the first run because I was crying so much. All those thoughts in my head and all those dark memories. It was hard for me. It was really hard.”
The performer, who was just 13 years old herself, drew strength from his co-stars — many of whom had similar experiences in high school. “I’m just absolutely tortured,” Echo Picone told me. “I was just absolutely tortured. I would come home and cry. I would just say I had no friends.”
“For me, it was in sixth grade,” noted Isabel Medina, who later appeared on Broadway in Disney’s “The Lion King.” Sammy Dell, who plays Trevor’s crush, noted that at his school, “People didn’t feel safe about themselves, so they lashed out at me.”
The show is set during President Reagan’s first term, over 40 years ago, but this still resonates because so much prejudice still exists against the LGBTQ+ community. Dan Collins, who wrote the script and lyrics for “Trevor: The Musical,” put it in perspective for me. “Sometimes we think a lot has changed, and we’ve come a long way and we have, but I still think a lot of people need a glimmer of hope and, you know, that message that I hope the show she gives.”
Hagelberger told me he felt stronger about himself and his future now that he’s done with the show. He wants other teens to “Accept who they are and not be afraid to be different.” As his character says, “Even if I don’t have muscles or don’t play football or go on dates, I’m worth something!”
“Trevor: The Musical” is now streaming on Disney+, which is owned by the same parent company as this station.
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