Marissa Barnathan hails from the quaint Philadelphia suburb of Havertown, Pennsylvania. She began dancing at the age of 3 at the JCC, which led to many dance lessons at the Radomile Academy of Dance for the next 15 years. Around the age of 6, Marissa also discovered she liked to sing, performing a duet of “Beauty and the Beast” in her first grade Disney Show. Finally, in 7th grade, Marissa decided if she could dance and sing, why not be in a play?! So after auditioning for the school musical Bye Bye Birdie, Marissa landed her first role as Randolph, the ingenue’s younger brother. Yes, her quirky, open-mindedness began at a young age, willingly accepting a male role, but from here, her passion for theater began to grow.
After continuing to do musical theater in all of high school, favorite roles including Ilona Ritter in She Loves Me (directed by Matt Decker), and Lola in Damn Yankees, Marissa studied at the University of the Arts in their Pre-College Musical Theater Summer Institute. This was her first chance to really delve into the study of acting, and she fell in love. Upon graduating from Haverford High School, Marissa chose to study theater and dance at Washington University in St. Louis. As a freshman, Marissa actually had aspirations of being a Math and Dance double major. But as she began to take more acting classes and fill her time with rehearsals for theater productions, she soon realized that theater was her real passion. Ultimately, she graduated with a B.A. in Drama and Psychology, with a minor in Ballet (still holding onto the dance roots).
It was also through Washington University in St. Louis that Marissa studied at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, England. This amazing educational opportunity grounded her classical acting work and became a solid foundation for her first Shakespearean roles in full-scale productions, including her first professional gig, playing the role of Anne Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor at St. Louis Shakespeare.
Currently, Marissa is back to her roots in Philadelphia, PA, where she completed the Dorothy Haas Acting Apprenticeship at the Walnut Street Theatre. In addition to performing in the area, Marissa works as a teaching artist, director, and choreographer.