This is the final weekend to see "Trevor," a dark comedy about a chimpanzee actor, written by the writer/producer of "Orange Is The new Black." It's inspired by the real-life chimp actor named "Travis" who made headlines when he attacked his owner's friend in 2009. "Trevor" is playing through Sunday at Stagecrafters in Royal Oak. You can find more information at www.stagecrafters.org
"Travis" focuses on a faded TV actor (a chimpanzee) who longs to return to his illustrious career. He struggles to keep a lid on his wildest urges, so he can fit into his owner's lifestyle. But things turn dangerous, when a woman moves in next door with her newborn baby.
Trevor is inspired by the story of real-life chimpanzee actor Travis, who, in February 2009, made internationalnews after grievously mauling Charla Nash, a friend of his owner, Sandra Herold.
The show is playing on Stagecrafters Second Stage, and here's what the theater says about the production:
"Like Travis, Trevor appeared in television shows and commercials in his youth, but is now getting older, larger, and more aggressive. Playwright Nick Jones has made the audience aware of Trevor's thoughts through dialogue, though the other characters are not privy to Trevor's words. Lamenting his lack of work, a familiar refrain for aging actors of any species, Trevor struggles to keep his wilder urges at bay to fit into the human lifestyle his owner Sandra has foisted upon him. When neighbor Ashley and her newborn baby move in next door, the lives of all involved take a turn for the worse.
Everything in Trevor exists in a tense balance. The situations range from absurdly comic to heartbreaking. Trevor, while ostensibly housebroken, could at any moment transform into a wild, unpredictable animal. Most of all, the dual realities of Trevor and his guardian, unable to truly communicate, are at odds. "
Director David Musselwhite of Royal Oak say: "The fine line between the humor and tragedy in this show is a challenge in a number of ways. First, as a director, I have to make sure that we have the appropriate balance between the two, and that we don't hit the audience with so much comedy that we lose realism or so much tragedy that the show becomes melancholy or self-pitying. We also have to do the right amount of foreshadowing – yes, Trevor is a funny and likeable character, but we have to find moments to remind the audience that he is also a terrifyingly large and powerful animal. Creating those moments of tension amid lighter elements has been one of the most fun parts about crafting this show with my incredible cast.
Stagecrafters also says:
"Another challenge for Musselwhite and the cast is creating a believable chimp, as Trevor’s stage directions state that Trevor and the other chimp character are not actually dressed as chimps. 'The fact that they're chimpanzees played by and dressed like humans is the central conceit of the show,' says Musselwhite. It will be made clear through their acting, movement, and from the dialogue.”
While Trevor (Matthew Wojcinski of Warren) plots his showbiz comeback, his embattled caretaker, Sandra (Julie Fuller of Ferndale), newly widowed, is in a desperate struggle with the community to keep her unusual pet. After he has taken her car for a joyride, she must defend him to Ashley (Rachel Keown of St. Clair Shores), the nervous new mother from next door; Jim (Bruce Thorburn of Waterford), the sheriff and concerned family friend; and ultimately Jerry, (Jacob Ferianc of Clinton Twp.), an animal control officer.
Meanwhile, Trevor, oblivious to Sandra’s struggle, waits for agents to call with job offers, gets tips from an old acting colleague, Oliver (Carlos Westbrook of Fenton), and a visit from former co-star Morgan Fairchild (Rita Smith of Royal Oak).
'How often have we wished we could communicate with our pets? To know their wishes and emotions and how they really feel about us? There's a yearning to connect with and understand all of the creatures we're close to in our lives, whether human or another species. Trevor highlights the negative consequences of the barriers to communication that we all face, whether those barriers are erected by being a different species, or exist between humans along lines of race, gender, political preferences, etc. The show serves as a reminder that we should earnestly try to understand others' motives and really listen receptively and respectfully whenever we can,' says Musselwhite.
Nick Jones, Trevor’s author, is the writer/producer of the Netflix series Orange is the New Black. Trevor was previously presented in 2013 by Theatre for the New City in New York City.
Tickets are $20 for all performances. Students with a valid student ID may purchase half-price tickets for the Thursday, October 20th performance. Buy online at stagecrafters.org The Baldwin Theatre is located at 415 S. Lafayette in downtown Royal Oak. The show runs approximately 2.5 hours including one intermission.
Sorry, there is no late seating once the show begins. Doors will be locked at 8 pm. Please plan accordingly and allow time for parking."
REMAINING: Show dates and times are as follows:
Thursday, Oct. 20 at 8 pm HALF-PRICE STUDENT NIGHT
Friday, Oct. 21 at 8 pm
Saturday, Oct. 22 at 8 pm
Sunday, Oct. 23 at 2 pm
Cast and Crew List by Community:
Matthew Wojcinski (Trevor), Warren
Julie Fuller (Sandra), Ferndale
Rachel Keown (Ashley), St. Clair Shores
Carlos Westbrook (Oliver), Fenton
Bruce Thorburn (Jim), Waterford
Jacob Ferianc (P.A./Jerry), Clinton Twp.
Rita Smith (Morgan Fairchild), Royal Oak