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BWW Interview: Trevor Dorner of MILLLION DOLLAR QUARTET at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre

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Goodness Gracious-an interview with the actor playing "The Killer" in Dutch Apple's newest production.

BWW Interview: Trevor Dorner of MILLLION DOLLAR QUARTET at Dutch Apple Dinner TheatreTrevor Dorner was born in Toledo, OH in 1992 and quickly began taking an interest in music and theatre. Beginning piano lessons in kindergarten or first grade he went on to do summer theatre programs, middle school and high school theatre, and community theatre productions all through his childhood. He attended Ohio Northern University where he got his BFA in Musical Theatre in 2015 and promptly moved to New York City to pursue a career.

Since moving to New York he has worked at a number of regional theatres around the country such as The Engeman Theatre in Long Island, Arts Center of Coastal Carolina in South Carolina, The Barter Theatre in Virginia, and Pacific Rep Theatre in California before eventually making his way onto the National Tour of Million Dollar Quartet as the Jerry Lee understudy. Since then he continued to refine and work on the Jerry Lee role until he eventually took over the role for the national tour. Trevor can also be found performing in piano bars, most notably on the Holland America Line cruise ships. Other than music and theatre, Trevor's interests extend into building computers and live streaming high level video game content on Twtich.tv under the username Magicaltrevv (twitch.tv/magicaltrevv).

BWW "Million Dollar Quartet" is based on a real life 1950s jam session with Elvis Presely, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins. How much of the show is historical, and how much of it is fictional?

TD: The show is mainly a dramatization of the real life jam session these guys had. All of the information presented in the show is historically accurate, however, most of that information was not revealed during the jam session like it does in the show. The show sort of crams all that stuff into the one night to add drama, excitement, and a story to the show.

BWW You portray Jerry Lee Lewis, the wild card of the bunch. What kinds of things did you do to prepare for the role? Would you agree that he is, indisputably, the greatest living legend we still have from that era of rock n roll?

TD: The main thing I did to prepare for this role was watch hours and hours and hours of Jerry Lee concert footage, learning his mannerisms, style, vocal qualities, etc. Then after that the biggest thing was just practicing the piano an absurd amount to be able to play like him and play with the comfort level needed to do all of his other shenanigans while I'm playing/singing. As far as living legends go I would say he is definitely the greatest still alive from an era of music that paved the way for so many other musicians.

BWW: What is your favorite Jerry Lee Lewis song and why?

TD: I like the song "Drinking Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee" even though it is technically a cover (a lot of the music Jerry Lee and the others did were covers). I like the song simply because it is fun to listen to and has a great piano intro.

BWW: Which do you think has had a greater impact on future generations of rock n roll-his music or his lifestyle?

TD: I would definitely say his lifestyle. Most people can't name more than one or two Jerry Lee songs (Great Balls of Fire) so I don't think his music was particularly revolutionary or inspirational. He paved the way for piano players in a guitar driven rock and roll world and showed that the piano can be a rock and roll instrument too, there's a line from the show where he says "88 keys got 6 strings beat every time!" so I do think he set the groundwork for a lot of piano rockers such as Billy Joel and Elton John. He also encompasses the "rock and roll" lifestyle that I think many contemporary rockers try to emulate. When most people think about Jerry Lee they think of two things, Great Balls of Fire and the story about him setting the piano on fire at the Apollo Theater. His lifestyle and crazy antics onstage and off are what drove his success and fame and I think it is that element, rather than just his music, that has had the greatest impact on the future generations of rock and roll

BWW: What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of being an actor/musician, as opposed to a standard musical theater orchestra?

TD: I personally love doing actor/musician shows despite the inherent difficulties and challenges.. The biggest challenge is just the brain power required to play your instrument at an extremely high level while still singing and acting to that same level. Usually I am pretty brain fried after a show or rehearsal just simply because it is twice as much thinking compared to a standard musical. Beyond that there is always the technical challenges of having the instruments onstage, it is always a huge undertaking for a Sound Department to make sure everything is balanced between vocals and instruments. The advantage of actor/musician shows is that you get to connect more with the music you are playing, it makes it more of a musical collaboration between those onstage versus singing along to an orchestra that is likely just playing along to a click track. It adds an additional excitement to each show because it is truly never the exact same show every night. Plus, it opens up the opportunity to explore worlds like the one in Million Dollar Quartet, if we were not actually playing the instruments the show would feel empty and lose it's heart.

"Million Dollar Quartet" opens at Dutch Apple on September 17 and runs through November 7. More info, tickets, menus, and pandemic safety measures can be foind at the theater's website.



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From This Author Rich Mehrenberg