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A fan favorite explains why he keeps coming back to perform in MYB's The Nutcracker

MJ Marsh is an actor, improviser and stand-up comic based in Minneapolis, MN. He is an artistic producer with the Bearded Company and an active player with ComedySportz who loves traveling and performing as many places as possible.

As audiences over the years have discovered, he also happens to be the perfect person to give Clara the gift of the nutcracker--and to give audiences the gift of a whimsical, storied, original production year after year.

MJ's life as a theatre professional serves as an inspiration for young company and cast members, and his kindness during rehearsals makes the stage seem as approachable as it is aspirational. With that in mind, here are some lessons he's learned over the years on and off stage:

  • Words to live by: "Be kind and merge"

  • Remedy for all that ails you: "Throat Coat Herbal tea has saved my life more times than I can count!"

  • Superstitions? "I'm superstitious about New Years Eve! I believe there's some kind of magic in determining next year's trajectory based on what you're doing at midnight on NYE."

  • Inspiration: "My Mother always inspires me. Through her love, support, and sacrifices, I have lived a very blessed life filled with opportunities and kindness. Her strength inspires me to move through this world with an open heart and an open mind."

He also has a few words of wisdom for dancers preparing to take the stage. "In the middle of all your hard work, don't forget to look around and breathe in the moment," he said. "Your fellow dancers, your instructors, your costumes. Take a moment to realize that you are surrounded by people of like mind and passion all working towards the same goal. You won't always be able to find that in the world, so soak it up and take it with you wherever you go.  Because in the future, you may very well become a person who helps build that very same feeling for someone else."

And remember, integrity and authenticity are the true metrics for success! "You are the only person who can define what success looks like for you. Not your parents, not your friends, not your fellow artists. It's entirely up to you to decide if you are a success in your art," he explained. "To me, success isn't fame, notoriety, or money. Success is being able to create freely. To collaborate with others that inspire and excite me. To know that even on a bad day, I am doing what I love and what I was born to do.  That's how I define my success. How do you define yours?"

Whether success means living on stage in the dream world of The Nutcracker or taking the lessons learned at the barre into the world in new ways, MJ's example should give you a sense of the breadth and beauty of what we can do when we inhabit our bodies, voices, and imaginations.

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