Most recently on stage, Holden Hagelberger booked his first lead character, when he originated the role of Trevor in Trevor: The Musical at Stage 42 in New York City, which also marked his off-Broadway debut. Trevor: The Musical is based on the 1995 Academy Award-winning short film Trevor, which inspired the LGBTQ youth suicide prevention nonprofit The Trevor Project, and whilst in the show, Holden recorded the original cast album. With the musical being filmed for a screen release, Trevor: The Musical premiered on Disney+ last month, and Holden reunited with the rest of the cast to attend the Disney+ red carpet premiere. During the pandemic, Holden was part of the virtual production of Kris Kringle the Musical, which was directed via Zoom and had a Christmas Day release, and he previously played Nigel in Matilda the Musical at The Public Theater in San Antonio. Holden chatted to us about starring as Trevor in Trevor: The Musical for his off-Broadway debut, having the musical filmed for a Disney+ release and being part of the virtual production of Kris Kringle the Musical.
Was there anything that drew you to Trevor: The Musical and how did it feel booking the role of Trevor for your first lead character?
When I received the original audition notice, it was for the character, Walter. I thought the song and sides were funny and that made me excited to submit for it. Once I was in NYC for in-person auditions, I sang and read for both Walter and Trevor. It was an insane feeling when my agent called to announce that I WAS TREVOR. And then I had to keep it a secret until the cast was formally announced…..THAT was TOUGH!
How did you prepare to play Trevor for your off-Broadway debut and what was he like to play?
The role of Trevor was very emotional to play. I had to dig deep into my memories of my life where people were mean to me. The creative team spent a lot of time making sure the Trevor cast was ok during the difficult scenes, giving us breaks and giving us opportunities to discuss how these scenes made us feel. Trevor is a force, who in the end, overcomes his struggles and believes in himself.
Can you tell us about the show and your character and how was it performing at Stage 42 in New York City?
Trevor: The Musical is about a middle-school-aged boy, who struggles with acceptance from his peers. He discovers that it is ok to be who you are meant to be and that you will eventually find “your” people. Performing on a NYC stage was a dream come true!
What was it like seeing the audience response to the new musical?
The audience response was amazing! Lots of people shared with me how Trevor reminded them of themselves and how they related to the school scenes where Trevor was not accepted for being different. So many people shared that the show made them laugh and cry and even went as far to say that they thought this show would save kids lives.
How was it having the stage show filmed and what was it like having it released on Disney+ in June?
Well, my first reaction when I heard that the show would be filmed was excitement because this meant the entire cast would get a FINAL performance. I am also so excited that my family and friends who had plans to see the show in NYC before the show closed, will now be able to see the show on Disney+! The filming itself, was so cool, there were cameras and equipment everywhere! I have watched Trevor a few times already on Disney+ and all I can say is that I am so proud of the story this cast told!
You reunited with the cast for the Disney+ red carpet premiere on 20th June, what was the event like to attend?
This was my first red carpet event and it was everything that I dreamt it would be. It was great and a bit emotional to see everyone again! I loved answering questions about my Trevor experience and I loved taking pictures with my Trevor family. I also was able to meet a couple of Disney stars from High School Musical: The Musical – The Series – they were so nice and they loved the show!
What have you enjoyed most about playing Trevor and working with the rest of the cast?
Being selected to bring Trevor to life on stage has meant learning so much about myself. I have learned to listen, to take direction, to try again, and to not give up. I liked learning what the creative team had in mind for Trevor and then bringing that to life. I loved making connections on stage with cast members and seeing that connection when I watch the show on Disney+ (Trevor with his parents, Trevor with Walter and Cathy, and at the end, Trevor with Jack).
Do you have any stand-out highlights from working on the musical?
Since this was my first NY theatre job, I would say that everything was a highlight. Let’s see, I had more costumes than I thought I would so there were many quick changes… I love quick changes! I performed a song from Trevor, My Imagination at the infamous NYC Birdland Jazz Club, accompanied on the piano by THE Billy Stritch! I totally freaked out after some performances when there would be actual Broadway stars, who saw the show, waiting to congratulate the cast. Last but not least, the two obvious highlights were the experience of recording an original cast album and filming the show!
The musical is based on the Academy Award-winning short film Trevor, which inspired the LGBTQ youth suicide prevention nonprofit The Trevor Project, what is it like re-telling the story?
Trevor was an AMAZING role to learn because he had an AMAZING message to share. I think my castmate/friend Colin Konstanty stated it correctly when he said, “There’s a little bit of Trevor in all of us”. This was so true because after every show, audience members would be waiting to tell the cast how much they saw themselves in this show. When someone tells you that you touched them with your performance, that’s when you know that you did your job, there really is no better feeling.
During the pandemic, you performed in the virtual production of Kris Kringle the Musical, how was this?
Kris Kringle was such a fun experience since performing was so limited during the pandemic. The Kris Kringle team sent me costumes and a backdrop through the mail. My mom set up a room in my house that we used to record my scenes. We would have scheduled times to record our scenes, which involved my mom being in charge of the recording while the director directed me live on Zoom. The show came out on Christmas Day and I was able to watch it with my parents, my cousins and my aunt and uncle.
You previously played Nigel in Matilda the Musical, what are some of your favourite memories from this show?
I spent an entire summer in San Antonio while I played Nigel at The Public Theater in San Antonio. Favourite memories were having so many friends from Sugar Land travel to see the show, spending my off days at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, and it was the place that I met my best friend to this day, Taylor Paige Henderson, who was one of the actresses that played the lead, Matilda. Matilda is such a fun show to perform… I had a blast!
Where does your love of performing come from and how did you start?
I caught the acting bug after I saw the tour of School of Rock when they came to Houston, Texas. I then started performing at Inspiration Stage, a community theatre in Sugar Land, Texas. My first role was Lew the Lemur in Madagascar Junior.
What are some of your favourite theatre shows to watch and which would you like to see that you haven’t done so as yet?
My favourite shows in NYC to watch are Company (hello, Patti Lupone), Moulin Rouge!, Beetlejuice and Dear Evan Hansen. Currently, my list to see includes A Strange Loop, Little Shop of Horrors (Rob McClure) and Into the Woods.
How do you like to spend your time away from your career?
When I am not performing, I like to hang out with friends, travel with my family, and play Xbox with my friends. I love visiting amusement parks because I love riding rollercoasters.
What are you hoping the upcoming year brings for you?
I hope this next year brings me more opportunities to entertain people. I will continue to train in acting, voice and dance so I will be ready for any auditions that come my way.
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