Chris Trousdale has died. An actor and musician best known for his time with ’90s and 2000s-era boy band Dream Street, Trousdale began his career as a child performer on Broadway, before branching out into music, TV, and film. A statement posted to his Instagram account today stated that he died from “an undisclosed illness,” although his former bandmate Jesse McCartney has stated that it was due to complications from COVID-19. Trousdale was 34.
Born in California, Trousdale got his start in performing at a young age, when he joined the touring company of Les Misérables, then joining the show’s Broadway production when he was only 10. His contemporaries at the time include a number of high-profile future actors; he starred in the Broadway show alongside Ricky Martin and Glee’s Lea Michelle, and also joined The Broadway Kids, a concert group assembled from children who had performed in Broadway shows that also counted Ashley Tisdale, Jesse Eisenberg, and Lacey Chabert among its members.
In 1999, when he was 14 years old, Trousdale was approached by music producers Louis Baldonieri and Brian Lukow, who were looking to put together a new boy band assembled from kids with previous stage experience. Although the group went through a few incarnations—including one that featured a quickly-nixed tap-dancing sequence—it eventually emerged as Dream Street, with Trousdale appearing alongside McCartney, plus Greg Raposo, Matt Ballinger, and Frankie Galasso. The quintet scored one gold record and a fair chunk of Radio Disney airplay in their three years together, before the boys’ parents sued Baldonieri and Lukow, accusing the managers of exposing the still-underage members to “booze, women, and pornography.” Courts found in favor of the families, and Trousdale and the other Dream Street members were released from their contracts.
Trousdale spent some time as a solo artist, scoring well-received duets with groups like the Swedish girl group Play, before stepping back from the limelight for several years. During that period, he occasionally acted, appearing on shows like Lucifer and in a handful of films; he also auditioned to be on The Voice, although didn’t clear the show’s blind audition rounds. He released his final track, “Summer,” last year.
Trousdale was memorialized today by McCartney, who wrote of his talent and “explosively charming” personality.