Born and raised close to NYC, this Jersey girl fell in love with Broadway at age six when she saw ANNIE. She was struck by the immediacy and passion of a story told onstage. It transported her, and she knew she wanted to do that for other people, too. She went home and assembled a formidable artistic team (her cousins). She oversaw production and starred in a variety of original theatrical projects (in her living room) which earned unilateral raves from critics and audiences alike (her parents). By the time she turned 10, her parents realized this theater obsession was more than a passing phase. Marni began to train in earnest for a performing career.
A college auditions tour landed her a merit scholarship to The Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Oberlin, OH where she learned mechanics, history, repertoire, and influence of music from astonishingly talented faculty and students. Summers performing at Ohio Light Opera taught her to rehearse one operetta in the morning, a different one in the afternoon, and perform a third in the evening. She learned to sing in German, French, and Italian, with or without a full orchestra. She studied and performed lieder at the prestigious Mozarteum International Summer Academy in Salzburg, Austria. She traveled to Italy for the language, culture, food, and sunflowers. More locally, she learned the difference between East and West Coast Swing country-style at the Boot Scootin’ Saloon in Akron. She also learned to pump her own gasoline. (Fun Fact: NJ and Oregon are the only states that do not allow self-service gas stations.)
After completing her Bachelor’s Degree in vocal performance, Marni moved to the Big Apple to pursue her dream.
Marni lived in New York for a whopping 3 weeks before booking her first gig. She hit the road and earned her Equity card playing the role of Christine Daaé in TheatreworksUSA’s production of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA by Rob Barron and David Spencer.
Over the next few years she delighted audiences in the iconic ingénue roles of Luisa (THE FANTASTICKS), Julie Jordan (CAROUSEL), Eliza Doolittle (MY FAIR LADY) at Saint Michael’s Playhouse, Media Theater, and Carousel Dinner Theater, respectively. She also got to practice her German in the role of Jellylorum in CATS at the Operettenhaus in Hamburg, Germany. She sang a bit of classical repertoire, too, filling in rehearsals as Musetta in LA BOHEME with Boheme Opera NJ and performing Kate Pinkerton in Connecticut Grand Opera’s MADAME BUTTERFLY. With the Metropolitan Opera Guild, she traveled to elementary schools in New York City’s five boroughs performing a one-woman show, conceived and directed by Darko Tresnjak, designed to introduce young children to opera.
In 2001 she was offered the chance to play Christine Daaé again, this time as the understudy on the 3rd National Tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s version of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. She toured the US for the next 2 years, eventually taking over as the Christine Alternate. Homesickness brought her back to the Big Apple where she performed the lead in HAVE A HEART under Tom Mills’ direction at Mel Miller’s Musicals Tonight! Just a few months later (but not before she had the chance to meet her future husband on the subway), Marni was invited to play Christine Daaé yet again, this time as the principal of the original World Tour production premiering in Shanghai.
On a quick trip to South Africa for a costume fitting, Marni tried springbok for the first time and petted a lion cub. Over the next two years, she played Christine Daaé in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA to packed houses in Shanghai, Seoul, Taipei, and Hong Kong in the original cast of the World Tour. She left that company to travel around the US and Canada as the principal Christine on the 3rd National Tour. Marni joined the Broadway company as the principal Christine in 2008, and became the 4th longest running Christine in Broadway history with over 800 performances on the stage of the Majestic Theater. She remained with the Broadway company through winter of 2014, sometimes as the principal Christine, and sometimes as the alternate, which meant she could be home more often to make dinner for her husband and three step children, and do things like write and perform a one woman show, WISHES ARE CHILDREN at Show at Barre in LA. She currently serves as Literary Manager of Midtown Direct Rep, continues to perform as often as possible, and grows kale in her garden. www.marniraab.com