Entertainment

Trevor Allen’s life a game of cat and mouse – Times-Herald

It seems Trevor Allen’s life revolves around a famous mouse and a not-yet-famous cat.

No, not “Tom & Jerry,” the animated TV cartoon characters that people of a certain age group would recognize.

That would be Mickey Mouse, the rodent star of all that is Disney. Allen’s former employer. And Mr. Merlin, Allen’s own domestic indoor feline boasting its own web site and Facebook page.

Both mouse and cat figure prominently Saturday when the Vallejo actor and playwright resurrects his book, “Working for the Mouse” with a reading at Alibi Bookshop in downtown Vallejo at 4 p.m. And, at some point, Allen will espouse not the mouse but the various morning musings and postings by Allen spotlighting the star cat.

“Working for the Mouse and Other Plays” was published in 2016 after Allen presented an acclaimed one-man show at the San Francisco Fringe Festival about his experience as a furry street character four summers at Disneyland while he majored in theater at UCLA.

“Ostensibly, it’s the work that will never die,” Allen laughed, granting a 40-minute phone interview Tuesday afternoon, acknowledging he’s been “doing this show on and off for a couple of decades.”

Beyond the Fringe Fest, there was an L.A. tour, a Burning Man performance, and a presence throughout the Bay Area.

Since Allen has turned “Working for the Mouse” and those “other plays” — “The Creature,” “Lolita Roadtrip,” “Tenders in the Fog” and “Chain Reaction” — into recorded podcasts, he thought it worthy to do a reading at Alibi.

It’s not as though Allen gets tired of “Working for the Mouse,” his commentary about corporate philosophy, though he insists it’s not an indictment of “The Happiest Place on Earth.”

Trevor Allen brings back his book, ‘Working for the Mouse,’ about his time with Disneyland, and ‘The Creature,’ Saturday at Alibi Bookshop in downtown Vallejo. (Contributed photo/S.N. Jacobson)

“It’s not a big ‘rat bashing’ and vitriolic ex-employee rant,” Allen said. “It’s sort of an explanation of how ‘Disneyism’ was sort of a religion to my family. The whole ‘make-believe and wish upon a star, magical thing.’ I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that as a corporate model.”

Most of the Disney employees are union, from the ride operators to the main show people, Allen said. The street performers — the “furry costumed characters” — are not union and many are part-time seasonal employees working for minimum wage.

“It’s interesting that people come from all over the world to see Mickey Mouse when, in reality, Mickey Mouse might be a single mother with five kids trying to make a living,” Allen said.

It is all about the fantasy, he continued.

“There are no homeless people in Disneyland. It’s like Mayberry. It’s what (Walt) Disney thought American could be. It’s what I fell in love with when I was a kid and got a job there.”

As the adage goes, people enjoy sausage, they just don’t want to know how it’s made.

“I’m not fighting that. It is what it is,” he said. “That’s what people love and want. But I was the sausage. You’re in this furry costume and people are prodding and pocking and kicking you in the privates.”

There are moments Allen relished. Like bringing a smile to a “Make-A-Wish” child with terminal cancer.

“You make their day. That’s cool,” he said, knowing the reality of “walking Main Street dressed as Pluto, you’re Mickey’s bitch making minimum wage,” but then “a kid sees you and he only knows you from a cartoon and wants his picture taken with you because you’re part of the magic.”

Allen noted that he’s not giving away any trade secrets.

“Disney’s known about my show for decades but never sent a ‘decease and desist’ letter. It’s theatre and a one-person show,” Allen said. “They can paint me as a disgruntled ex-employee, but they don’t own magic. Creativity and imagination are not something you can copyright, trademark and buy. It is innate in all of us. I’m one person telling the story about a strange job I had in 1988-1991.”

Trevor Allen’s cat, Mr. Merlin. (Contributed photo)

Almost forgot. Mr. Merlin. Perhaps he’s Allen’s alter ego. Or, considering he’s been neutered, altered ego. Either way, Allen posts numerous photographs and observations about Mr. Merlin — including conversations — almost daily on Facebook.

“I don’t think there’s any question at all — I’m completely sane,” Allen said. “I’m not sure about my cat.”

Mr. Merlin was living under juniper bushes in the yard shared by Allen and his wife, Karen, “before he took over our lives.”

“Some people may be coming to the bookshop reading are Mr. Merlin fans,” believes Allen, unabashedly acknowledging his fascination that is Mr. Merlin’s life.

“I haven’t worked for the mouse in decades,” Allen said. “I’m working for the cat now.”

Trevor Allen reads from “Working For the Mouse” and “The Creature,” at Alibi Bookshop, 624 Marin St., Vallejo, this Saturday, Nov. 13, 4 p.m. Limited seating. To attend, RSVP to alibibookshop@gmail.com. Proof of vaccination, mask required.   

 

 

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