15 Questions in 15 Minutes with Broadway’s Marissa Rosen

At 5’1” (“ish!”), New York native Marissa Rosen might not be the tallest person in the room, but her voice, talent, and personality are larger than life. Currently making her Broadway debut in the new musical Water for Elephants, after originating the role of Sue at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre this past summer, Rosen has added yet another fifteen minutes to her burgeoning fame by performing “The Lion Has Got No Teeth” with the cast on ABC’s Good Morning America earlier this month, following her previous TV appearances on Modern Love (Amazon Prime), Law & Order SVU (NBC), and the musical episode of Doom Patrol (HBO Max).

Marissa Rosen, Sarah Gettelfinger, Taylor Colleton, and Grant Gustin in Water for Elephants. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Rosen’s acclaimed Off-Broadway credits include R.R.R.E.D., The Marvelous Wonderettes, My Big Gay Italian Wedding, its sequel My Big Gay Italian Funeral, and BedBugs the Musical, and she can be heard as a featured voice actor on Erik Ransom’s 2020-21 post-apocalyptic podcast series The World to Come. As a singer, Rosen appeared with Tony-winner Kristin Chenoweth in the musical revue For the Girls, which played a limited engagement of eight performances at Broadway’s Nederlander Theatre in November 2019, and subsequently toured the country, performing alongside Chenoweth and Jessica Vosk.

Nikki Kimbrough, Kristin Chenoweth, Marissa Rosen, and Crystal Monae Hall in For the Girls. Photo by Karen Almond/The Met.

In addition to making multiple appearances in themed cabaret concerts at NYC’s premiere nightclub 54 Below, her debut record, The Award-Winning Holiday Album with Broadway’s Marty Thomas, was released in 2020, along with a livestream listening party on YouTube, and is available on Amazon and across all music and streaming platforms. And Ghostlight Records has announced an original cast recording of Water for Elephants. The album, produced by Mary-Mitchell Campbell and Ian Kagey, and recorded on Monday, March 25, will be released later this season; you can pre-save it here.

During a very busy month of Broadway previews, the March 21st opening of Water for Elephants, and studio sessions for the recording, Marissa found some time in her hectic schedule to answer our questions about the show, her favorites, and her background.

Marissa Rosen. Photo by Jenny Anderson.
  1. What is it about the circus?

Marissa: I mean, who doesn’t wanna run away and join the circus?! It’s the excitement, the magic, and the immediate built-in family that you create with both trust and love when joining the circus!

  1. What three emotions did you feel when you made your debut on the Broadway stage?

Shock. Pride. Exhilaration.

  1. If you had a pet elephant, what would you name it?

 Absolutely Dumbo!

  1. Do you have a favorite song in the show that you always enjoy performing?

One of my favorite songs to perform is “Just our Luck.” It’s kind of a Greek chorus sextet of witty lyrics and delicious jazz harmonies. What’s not to love?!

  1. Which character you’ve portrayed on the stage or screen have you found most relatable?

Honestly? Probably Sue in Water for Elephants! She is just a happy, excitable, sometimes confused, but always optimistic human being. I find her to be so delightfully lovable in so many of her silly, playful moments in the show. It’s a beautiful vulnerability that I definitely feel like I experience on a day-to-day basis as well! 

Marissa Rosen, Gregg Edelman, Taylor Colleton, Sara Gettelfinger, Joe De Paul, and Stan Brown. Photo by Matthew Murphy.
  1. Is there a role or show you’d like to perform in the future?

My dream role was Little Red in Into the Woods, but lucky me, I’ve gotten to play her twice! I’d LOVE to be Dawn in Waitress or Mama Rose in Gypsy when I’m older!

  1. Which came first for you, acting or singing?

No question – singing. I couldn’t be stopped. Anytime a song was playing or anytime there was something that looked like a stage, you would find me putting on the show of a lifetime! I fell in love with music at such an early age, thanks to my parents and their eclectic musical taste. We figured out I could sing and I immediately caught the bug! 

  1. Who’s been the biggest inspiration in your career?

Hands down, Bette Midler. She is a strong, funny, brassy, one-of-a-kind character that paved her own way in the business. She was so unique and so unbelievably daring in her style of entertainment. She may not have fit into the normal cookie-cutter box of divas, but her bold choices and comedic chops paved a way for other women, such as myself, to find their place in this business.

  1. What’s your first creative memory?

Singing and dancing around the basement with my Dad. He has such a love of rock ‘n’ roll, and he used to pick me up and dance with me to “Bertha” by his favorite band, the Grateful Dead. From then on, we listened to music together, constantly! He is such a huge part of my love of music.

Marissa Rosen. Photo by Michael Hull.
  1. What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Nurturing. Driven. Unique. 

  1. What three things do you always have in your dressing room?

My portable fans! Snacks. Pictures of my friends and family.

  1. Have you ever had an attack of stage fright?

I wouldn’t say there was a particular instance when I had an attack, per se . . . but my hands always get ice cold right before I go on stage, which I assume is a slight moment of nerves . . . but more an adrenaline boost to do something I may have never done before!

  1. Do you have a favorite comfort food or beverage?

I love a Coke Zero. I don’t drink coffee or really anything caffeinated, so that is my guilty pleasure treat. I could also eat Chinese food for every meal of the day.

Marissa Rosen. Photo by Dirty Sugar.
  1. What do you do for fun when you’re not working?

I get asked this question a lot and I definitely know I’ve picked the right career when my job also happens to be my hobby. I love singing. I love arranging music. I love singing along with the radio. But if you had to ask me what I would choose outside of my career . . .  I would have to say watching guilty pleasure trash TV, traveling whenever I can, and spending as much time with my friends and family as possible! 

  1. What’s the greatest lure of being famous?

Being able to make a difference, to inspire. To show people that there’s actually room for everyone. It also couldn’t hurt to have more money than I need! LOL!

Many thanks, Marissa, for sharing a fast and lively fifteen minutes with us! Congratulations on your Broadway debut in Water for Elephants; I loved the show and look forward to seeing you in many more in the future! 

Water for Elephants plays through Sunday, September 8, 2024, at the Imperial Theatre, 249 West 45th Street, NYC. For tickets (priced at $59-299, including fees), go online.

Before you go, you can watch the official music video for “The World Don’t Make You Young” below:


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here