This Super Trouper has been following her dreams of acting and playing dress up for nearly three decades—most recently as Rosie in Mamma Mia at Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre, in Carmel, IN. She’s also a full-time communications professional, a wife (she’s married to Michael Lasley, Civic’s Executive Artistic Director) and a parent to her beloved rescue dogs, Skye and Theo.
I have the pleasure of working with her and seeing how smart, strategic and creative she is as the Deputy Director of Communications for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration. But when I saw her transition from a PR pro to a Dancing Queen, I was in awe! The fact that she can work all day, make time for rehearsals (where she learned some difficult dance moves for Mamma Mia) and perform several shows on one of Indy’s most professional stages is pretty bad ass. Fortunately, Marni agreed.
“I’ve gotten to live a pretty cool life on stage, playing incredible characters and dressing up in the most amazing costumes,” said Marni. “It’s difficult and demanding, but I do it for the love of the art.”
She also does it to pay it forward to the next generation of actors. “I’ll be 60-years-old next year. I’m old enough to be some of these kids’ mom, yet on stage I’m their peer. That allows me insight into an entirely new generation, while, hopefully, providing inspiration to them on how to be badass in their own way.”
Acting is a passion for Marni. While her day job keeps food on her table, theatre feeds her soul. She doesn’t get paid for acting—and she’s quick to clarify that just because she’s married to the artistic director, doesn’t mean she gets special privileges or is promised any role. She has to audition and work just as hard as everyone else. She’s an avocational performer who has become addicted to the applause.
Marni was easily able to pinpoint her favorite genre: musicals. But she had difficulty in identifying her favorite role because there are too many, including Golde in Fiddler on the Roof, the queen of Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!, the narrator in Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Dot in Sunday in the Park with George, Reno in Anything Goes and Janet in Rocky Horror (just to name a few).
Just like so many of us, Marni’s biggest challenges are finding enough time to do it all and balancing everything. She identifies well with a quote she recently heard on the TODAY Show: “If you’re not living your best life today, then when do you plan on starting?” Good point!
So, what’s next for this Dancing Queen? She’s not sure. These days she finds herself working exclusively for Civic Theatre, but that doesn’t mean she’s not willing to do something else. “I may get a wild hair and do something completely different—Shakespeare seems to always have a role for an older woman. Or maybe I’ll just get caught up on everything on my DVR.”
No matter what the future holds, I have no doubt she’ll do it with great charisma and character.