Roselle Park has had its share of acting talent come from and come into its ZIP code. There are Parkers like Keith Loneker and Zach Infante, just to name two, and the Borough has been visited by notable names such as Andy Garcia and Marisa Tomei. Last week another name was added to the list. Up-and-comer Renée Marino – who portrayed Frankie Valli’s first wife in “Jersey Boys” – stopped by Planet Dance to hang out with her cousins, Gina and Erica, to hang out and reminisce about growing up with their shared love of dancing and Jersey.
Renée has heard it all before with the the easy-to-make references about being ‘the Jersey Girl’ in “Jersey Boys” – having grown up in Linden – but it is not something she shuns away from. While visiting with Planet Dance, Renée talked about growing up Jersey, dancing, acting, and her breakout role in “Jersey Boys”, which happens to be her movie debut.
“My background’s in dancing and acting. It’s who I was since I was a little girl,” Renée recounted, having majored in Musical Theatre in college, she has now been working professionally for 10 years. She was in National Tours of “Cats”, “Disney’s High School Musical”, and even “Jersey Boys”. Eventually her determination and hard work got her to Broadway playing Mary Delgado, the same role she portrayed in the just released Clint Eastwood film. Landing such a role in a movie directed by a Hollywood legend is more than just a big break for Renée. She said, “It’s such a blessing! Especially for me because the show is so close to my heart and I’m from Jersey, born and raised. To have that be my first film is so special.”
Seeing herself on the silver screen for the first time was a dreamlike experience. She recalled that moment, “It was so surreal. I said to myself ‘It’s really me up there’. It’s heartwarming to be in a theatre and have other people react and connect with what I do.”
Renée, having experienced the differences between performing on the stage and working on a movie set, enjoyed the change of atmosphere, although she never tires of her first love – performing in front of a live audience. Still, she has found the allure of ‘Lights, Camera, Action’ and will be moving for a while to the West Coast to try TV and movies. She said, “I caught the bug now so I can’t wait to do another one. Theatre’s always my foundation so singing and dancing are my big big loves and I will always go back to that but I definitely want to venture out.”
But Renée knows that family is important to her, not only for their support up to this point of her career, but also to encourage her on her path. Hanging out with cousins Gina and Erica, Renée remarked about her big break, “It’s not just all about me because even though I’m reaching my dreams, I’m also getting to share in it with all the people I love who have been through my journey and watched me grow and work hard and audition. They went through all the steps with me so for them to be able to enjoy it and see my process is unmatchable.”
Renée plans to visit her cousins and Planet Dance from time to time to keep in touch and return to her first love, dancing. But for now, with all the possibilities available to her, Renée is ready for the next stage, stating, “I’m leaving my arms open and seeing what’s next.”
“Jersey Boys”, directed by Clint Eastwood, is currently playing in theaters.