“BE YOU. Don’t try to imitate anyone else!” : Meet Pretty Woman’s Renée Marino!

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Kevin Ray Johnson

I would like you to meet Renée Marino. Ms. Marino can currently be seen in Pretty Woman on Broadway where she is a member of the Ensemble, the Dance Captain, and Assistant to the Choreographer. Other Broadway credits for Renée include West Side Story (Rosalia), Jersey Boys (Mary Delgado), Chaplin, and Wonderland. She has also appeared as Mary Delgado in Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys film.

Renée started dancing at the age of three. Being a performer was in her from the start. “To be honest, I believe being a performer was innately in me. When I was eleven years old, I had my first experience performing in a musical which came about because my best friend at the time, Betsy, was partaking in our community theatre, so I thought it’d be fun since she was doing it. The musical was “George M.,” and I had a singing solo called “Down by the Erie Canal.” Once I experienced being on that stage, I was hooked. It has always been a part of who I am,” says Marino.

Renée is having the time of her life in Pretty Woman. She started with the show a year ago after being cast in the final lab of the show. She was later asked to be a part of the Broadway company. “This is my favorite film, so to be a part of the show with such an incredible group of people, from the creative side to the crew to the cast, is a dream,” says Marino. She also spoke highly of a tradition that the cast and crew have created for the show “One of my favorite moments up until this point has been doing a “Birthday Dance” which was just on September 18th. We’ve started a tradition of creating a short dance for our birthdays, where the person whose birthday it is gets to pick the song they want, and then that person along with a few different people choreograph a few eight counts. The fact that several members of our cast/crew came together on their own personal time to learn the dance and then perform it on that day was beyond special.”

Renée graduated from Wagner College and has had an incredible career since. I asked her what some roles are that remain near and dear to her heart, and she stated “Firstly is the role of Mary Delgado in “Jersey Boys” which I had the privilege of playing not only on the First National Tour but also on Broadway and in the film directed by Clint Eastwood. This role was so special to me because this was a real woman, who was from the same place that I am from, who was beautifully layered and complex. Having the honor of playing Mary, who was the first wife of Frankie Valli, while Frankie Valli himself sat in the audience during my performance and on set for the film, was surreal.”

She also added with that experience that one of the coolest moments in her life came at the New York Premiere of the film when Mary’s real granddaughter came up to her with tears in her eyes after seeing the film and said, I thought I was watching my grandmother up there. “That is the best compliment I could ever ask for!” says Marino. The second role that is special for her is Rosalia in the 2010 “West Side Story” revival directed by Arthur Laurents. “I went from being a swing for both the Jets and Sharks, to playing one of the Shark girls, to Arthur Laurents seeing me in a rehearsal and asking me to take over the role of Rosalia. It was such an exciting journey to have been my Broadway debut with not only an iconic musical but one where I had the opportunity of playing so many different roles while also getting to work with a legend like Arthur Laurents.”

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There have been many mentors in Renée’s life who have helped to shape her in such positive ways, but the way she spoke of her teacher, the late Diane Socha, is what truly stuck out to me. “Diane took me to see my first Broadway show “Hello Dolly” with Carol Channing. She taught me that it’s not “Practice makes Perfect”, It’s “Perfect Practice makes Perfect”, meaning if you’re not rehearsing or practicing with the same heart, soul, and technique that you hope to bring to your final performance, then you will never reach the heights that you are capable of because you have not trained your mind and body to work in that way.” She also added and gave praise to her college teachers, Rusty Curcio, and John Jamiel. “Rusty deeply furthered my technique in ballet and taught me that training never stops as a dancer and continually taking classes is necessary. John Jamiel was my acting teacher who said, “only pursue this business if your passion is so deep that you cannot see yourself doing anything else. If you can see yourself doing something else, then do that because this business is not easy or about making money.”

Her final mentor she stated is Clint Eastwood. “When I filmed “Jersey Boys” I had never been on any television show or in a film before, so I was like a sponge. I watched everything Clint and his team were doing even when I was not filming and would ask about what each shot was so I could understand what was going on. Clint and I would eat lunch together the days that I was on set, and I would ask him questions about acting and how he started. When I asked him about his “technique” of acting, he said, “I listen to what the other person is saying, and then I react.” I responded with, “wow, it really is that simple. Sometimes as actors, we just like to complicate things!”

Renée’s advice to young aspiring performers is fantastic and spot on. “Take care of yourself to the best of your ability. As performers, our bodies are our tools, and we have to get rest, eat well, keep training in dance, voice, acting, and so on. Surround yourself with wonderful people who inspire you and make you feel recharged after being with them. Most importantly, BE YOU. Don’t try to imitate anyone else, because the Real You is what will not only get you the job but also will allow you to inspire others to be their true selves as well!”

Make sure you go check out Renée in Pretty Woman on Broadway as soon as you can. If you don’t... Big mistake… Big... Huge…

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