BWW Interview: Andrew Di Rosa Talks SHREK, Musical Inspirations, and Dream Roles

It's a big bright beautiful world for Andrew Di Rosa, the Pickering actor who played Shrek in the Lower Ossington Theater's production of SHREK THE MUSICAL this fall. Di Rosa previously starred in the companys production of ALTAR BOYZ, and will be seen in the feature film thriller Fragile Minds in 2014. The actor took some time to sit down and talk with BWW to about his love for acting, being a Shrek fanboy, and his favourite musicals.

BWW: Did you always know you wanted to perform?

DI ROSA: When I was a kid, I was very much a performative child. I always wanted to make people laugh, and to be the center of attention, and that has followed me through all of my life. This profession for me... it was always going to be this. They'd always tell me mom "you've got an actor right there." From childhood I wanted to be an actor. As a kid I wanted to be Robin Williams. I found musical theatre in high school and loved it. Being on stage was a huge thing for me, and it was the gratification I always wanted. Getting applause... that rush is like no other for me.

BWW: Do you have any actors , film, TV, or stage that you are inspired by?

DI ROSA: Brian D'arcy James is my number one theatre guy. I know everything he's done; I sing everything he's been in. Robert De Niro is a huge hero of mine, same as John Goodman and Julianne Moore. I watch all of their stuff, I follow them on twitter, I find out what they're doing, I really like those three actors. I'd like to be as diverse as those three actors.

BWW: This might be a tough one - do you have a list of top 5 favourite musicals?

DI ROSA: There absolutely is. Shows I listen to on a regular basis - for a long time it was WICKED. WICKED was one of the first shows I [ever saw]. My aunt took me in the ninth grade to see it when it was in Toronto, and I [remember thinking] yep, this is what I'd like to do, I'd like to be in theatre. WICKED would be number one, THE LAST FIVE YEARS, INTO THE WOODS, LES MIS, mostly anything Jason Robert Brown. I love SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD just because his characters are the characters I like to play, complex characters with really cool songs.

BWW: If you could play any musical theater role what would it be?

DI ROSA: There's different ones for different reasons. My tie would be The Baker in INTO THE WOODS and Jamie from THE LAST FIVE YEARS. Once again, they're both like Shrek. They're warm people who are put in bad situations, and that's what I like - complex diverse characters that have to fight for what they want. I think that's important when you're an actor; you want to play someone who's multidimensional.

BWW: How did you learn about the role of Shrek?

DI ROSA: I was listening to the soundtrack pretty heavily this summer and then I fell in love with the role. I instantly searched who was doing it and where. It was such a strange coincidence that the Lower Ossington Theater was doing it, because I worked with them last summer with ALTAR BOYZ and couldn't believe it. I messaged Shauna before she put the audition notice up, and sent her an email [saying] I have to audition for this, so please keep me in the loop.

BWW: What did you find so appealing about the role considering you went looking for it?

DI ROSA: I think when you play a character you kind of have to find yourself in the character. With Shrek, he's just such an awesome character to play because on the outside he's so rough and jaded and against the world, but on the inside he's this big beating heart looking for love and friendship. [Even though] he's been told he can't have that, he goes out and gets it and fights for what he wants and believes in. I think that's an awesome trait to have in a character.

BWW: What was the rehearsal process like?

DI ROSA: With Shrek there comes some expectation with him. If people have seen the movie they know he is Scottish, he's got an accent. The first thing I had to get down was the voice. I watched the movie a couple of times and played with the words, how he performs the syllables, and got the accent down as best I could. As soon as I got that, his sarcasm, sense of humour and relationship with characters sort of came when I discovered the voice. The mannerisms kind of followed..

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