I Am Not Shrek
Pretty actress that plays a sugar cookie (just as we are going on-stage): “Every time I look
at you, I almost have a panic attack. You scare me to death in that hood.”
Me: “I guess asking you out on a date is out of the question then.”
My mother, God bless her, wanted her boys to sing, play the piano and other musical
instruments. While my oldest brother was the star of his high school musical, there was one
little hitch with my mom’s dreams of her children being the next Von Trapp Family Singers.
Her sons were all boy, from the soles of our shoes to the hairs on our heads, all boy. Which
means that unless outfielder Reggie Jackson used a flute to take a cut at the ball during his
last at bat, it was down the priority list.
I have not sung in public since I was in high school and the mixed chorus teacher sent a
note to my parents that stated, “Trevor is not a valuable asset to my mixed chorus and I
wish him not to return next year.”
One little fire, after two years of staring at my feet, and, suddenly, I’m not a valuable asset.”
(Just to be clear. I did not strike the match or drop it in the pile of leafs. I did not set the fire.
I simply said the words, “I dare you,” and somehow, I was to blame?)
Surrounded by amazing singers and dancers, several of whom have had years of training
because this type of thing is what they want to do with their lives, if you were going to play
the game “which one does not belong,” you are going to pick the big Norwegian with the
hood over his head that is just trying to avoid a whirling fairytale creature punching him
accidently in the nose because I happen to be in the wrong place on stage.
Now, my theater training has been extremely limited. In high school, the woman in charge
of the musical actually searched me out and begged me to join her cast for the next musical.
Did she see a young Brando in the making? No. I played the hulking professional
championship wrestler and villain,scoop Earthquake McGoon in Li’l Abner. I was the
hulking heavyweight championship wrestler on the wrestling team. It was not too much of
I mainly did it because probably the most beautiful girl in the school was playing Daisy
Mae. I thought that maybe after the hours we would spend together practicing she might
decide that her pretty boy boyfriend just was not in the same league as the mountain of
masculinity next to her.
Nope. I repaid the woman in charge of the play’s belief in me opening night. There is a
pivotal scene where Daisy Mae runs by Earthquake because she is in hot pursuit of Li’l
Abner because it is Sadie Hawkins Day where a woman gets to marry the man she wants if
she can catch him.
Earthquake was to grab Daisy as she ran by, throw her over his shoulder, and carry her off
stage. It was a scene we had practiced dozens of times. In fact, everyone was amazed that I
could scoop her up with one hand and did not need to throw her over my shoulder to carry
her off. It was just like grabbing a rag doll for me.
I guess I did not dip enough as Daisy ran past. Instead of her hard waist, my hand grabbed
something extremely soft. At that moment, I realized I had just gotten to second base with
young Daisy in front of a gymnasium of parents and grandparents.
The poor girl was a trooper. She kicked her legs up so I could carry her off stage. Horrified, I
reacted like I had just touched a hot stove. My hand flew back and I dropped beautiful Daisy
Mae right on her butt with a thud.
I quickly grabbed her, threw her over my shoulder. She repaid the favor by putting her shoe
into where my swimsuit would have covered just as we hit the curtain where I was to set
her down. Needless to say, Daisy and I were not going to go to the prom together.
Surprisingly other roles came, most which I did not bother to try out for, over the years. (It
helps when one of my relatives is deeply involved in theater and has directed several plays
and for some unknown reason thinks of me from time to time.)
“Trevor, we are performing One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. I have a role perfect for you.”
“McMurphy? Because I have always pictured myself as a young Jack Nicholson.”
“No, Chief. He is a big autistic guy.”
“I know who Chief is. I saw the movie and read the book. I am not sure I would know how
to play an autistic character like the Chief. I am not much of an actor.”
“Trevor, you’re Norwegian. It is practically the same thing.”
“Trevor, I am doing an Upton Sinclair play and I need someone to play a large, dumb fascist
that chokes his wife to death. You were the first person I thought of. You’re perfect.”
I even got called in during the last week to play the role of the special needs character of
Lenny in Of Mice And Men. My qualifications: I walk like a farmer, I’m big, and I have a
strange ability to memorize things, which meant the opening weekend performances did
not have to be canceled.
It was a hit. Several people told me it was the best portrayal of the tragic Lenny they had
ever seen. They could not imagine how I became a cipher for the slow-witted, hulking
Lenny, It was one of the greatest moments of acting they had ever witnessed. Several
audience members even wept when George shot me.
I wasn’t acting. I did not have time to act. I was just being me as I tried to remember my
lines and hit my marks. I have only ever played fascists, thugs, mobsters, murderers, hired
muscle and the slow-witted. Okay, that is not true. I got one part that had nothing to do
with any of the above character types.
“Trevor, we would love for you to be the neighbor.”
“Is he big, dumb or a villain of some type?”
“No, Trevor. Just a common ordinary neighbor.”
“Oh, Trevor, I was wondering if you could teach your dog Layla a couple of tricks. There is a
dog in the play that provides comic relief. And you know how much everyone loves Layla.”
So, when I saw the advertisement for a casting call for Shrek, I decided to tryout.
It was probably the worst audition ever. Just in general, I am horrible in such situations. I
had a sinus infection that put my voice out of commission. I have a high singing voice, if one
would call it singing, that my closed sinuses allowed me no access to.
It was probably the first time a musical director had been told that a would-be actor was
not going to sing for him or her. It was a car wreck, the kind of car wreck that people talk
about decades later.
“And just when you thought it could not get worse, the decapitated head rolled down the
It was Pearl Harbor bad. I looked at this handsome guy, with an amazing voice, talent
dripping from his every pore and I knew Shrek was out of the question. Green him up and
put a fat suit on him, and he can pretend to be an ogre, and darn good ogre at that.
It became fairly easy to spot those in line with the talent, training and abilities to deliver
home run performances.
I knew I was not one of them, especially because I’m bigger that the actor that I knew
would be playing the lead role. Visually, it does not look good for another actor to look
down on and looks like he could pick his teeth with the terrifying ogre. At least, I tried.
Granted, it was like an eighth grade football team scheduling the Green Bay Packers, but I
So, I was surprised when I got the call.
“We would like to offer you a role in Shrek: The Musical.”
“Oh, what is that?”
“The role is perfect for you. Thelonius. You are the executioner and toadie of Lord
Farquaad. You’ll be wearing a hood over your head, and you stand there and look tough.”
That’s the story of my life, oh yeah. That’s the story of my life.
If you have a chance to see the musical, by all means do. I might not be Shrek, but it is great.
If you are a director looking to round out your cast for Young Frankenstein: The Musical,
you are never going to find a better monster than me.
“Putting on the Rrrrriiiitttttzzzz.”