Troy Clarkson

Mark Woods has spent a lifetime making people happy. As a successful entrepreneur and owner of Ideal Floor Covering, he has worked with countless families to brighten their lives through brightening their homes. He has also brightened lives through his generosity by supporting many local organizations, including the Upper Cape Spartans football program, the Cape Cod Police Athletic League, and the Falmouth Fireworks. Falmouth is Mark’s hometown, and he has worked throughout his life to make things brighter one person, one family, one day at a time.

Now, Mark Woods is brightening lives through lifting spirits and helping to tell the extraordinary and inspirational story of a boy named Trevor.

The short film “Trevor” is a gripping and poignant tale of a young man struggling with his identity and his sexuality, and how the bullying by his peers and the intolerance and ignorance of others in his life, including his parents, drives him to a place of dark desolation and a suicide attempt. The film won a 1995 Oscar for best live-action short film, and also garnered a Teddy Award that same year for best short. After the success of the film, its creators started the Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization that, according to its website, “is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.” Through advocacy, education, outreach and engagement, the Trevor Project seeks simply to help prevent suicide by helping young people to understand and believe that they are free to be themselves, free to be comfortable being who they are. It’s “Trevor Lifeline” provides a 24-hour hotline for young people in need of a listener. More information on this remarkable nonprofit is available at www.thetrevorproject.org.

When Mark Woods saw the film with its powerful story and lovable lead character, his first thought was, “This is a musical!” So, like he did with many charitable organizations here in Falmouth, he put his passion, his generosity and his creativity into doing just that. In April Mark’s efforts will pay off, and his dream will become a reality when “Trevor the Musical” opens at the Stage 42 Theater on West 42nd Street in New York. This Broadway opening follows a 2017 premiere in Chicago, where “Trevor” won multiple awards, including multiple Jeff Awards, the Chicago equivalent of a Tony Award. It broke records for attendance and ticket sales, its powerful message resonating with a wide array of audiences. The show’s Broadway debut is sure to be a highlight of the Manhattan theater scene. Many Falmouthites flew to Chicago to see the show; that act of support and rallying around this standout citizen will surely be repeated. Tickets are available at www.trevorthemusical.com.

“This show comes at a time that is important,” Mark noted to me during a chat this week, explaining that cyber-bullying of LGBTQ youths in our country is on a dangerous upswing and that adolescent suicide is on the rise globally. Trevor’s message allows millions of kids—gay and straight—to understand and identify with being different. In a glowing review in the Chicago Tribune, the show was described as “exceptionally timely and consistently artful” and “truly beautiful.”

Mark explained its resonance with a wide array of human emotions: “And you’re maybe gay. Or maybe just sensitive. Or creative. Or overly reflective. Or just a really huge Diana Ross fan. Or a choreographer in the making. But, regardless of what you may be, being different from the jocks in the perilous middle school hallway is enough to cause your parents to worry about your safety, this being the cruel era of 1981 and all,” he explained, getting to the heart of Trevor’s appeal.

When Mark shared this core value of the show the emotions overcame me, as my own experience allowed me to make a deep connection with Trevor and his message. I was a 13-year-old kid in 1981, the setting of Trevor’s life. I was a music-loving, band-playing teenager who wore tuxedos and overalls to school and was relentlessly bullied and teased over it. I can deeply identify with Trevor’s pain, even as a heterosexual, because Trevor’s pain wasn’t just about being gay, it was about being different. “This is not just a gay story,” Mark explained, sharing the story of 70- and 80-year-olds crying in the Chicago theater, identifying with either bullying or being bullied in their youth, and finally understanding the impact of it all. This musical allows us—encourages us, maybe even forces us—to examine our own behavior, our prejudices, and gives us a pathway to understanding those who are different, hopefully resulting in just a little bit more empathy and understanding and a reset of our own behavior. In today’s topsy-turvy world of bad behavior, the value of that lesson cannot be overstated.

Mark was clear to note that, while “Trevor the Musical” carries the mantle and the message of “Trevor” the movie, the work of the Trevor Project is as important as ever and continues alongside the musical. “The film created the Trevor Project and my goal is that the musical will take it to a level beyond belief,” he shared enthusiastically.

The road to Broadway was a long one. Mark bought the rights to “Trevor” and then got to work. It took several years to write, choreograph, compose the score and the numbers, and get the show ready for the world’s largest stage. “Many shows tell the story of the underdog, but never before the raw story of what a 13-year-old goes through every day,” he explained, encapsulating the appeal for “Trevor” and the reason why it’s so easy to root for Trevor—and for Mark. I surely am.

Mark’s motto as the owner of Ideal Floor Covering has always been “It’s Ideal!” That’s true in many ways. His business still thrives and supports local charities, run and supported by his daughter and son-in-law. And by telling the story of Trevor—one that occurs in real life and in real time millions of times each day in America—he’s taking some deep pain in our society and making an ideal message. He’s sharing the message of Trevor, and making love and acceptance an ideal we can all support.

Mr. Clarkson may be contacted at votetroy99@aol.com and followed on Twitter @TroyClarkson59

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