“There’s no business like show business like no business I know/Everything about it is appealing, everything that traffic will allow …” – Lyrics by Irving Berlin from the Broadway musical, Annie Get Your Gun
First, there was Barnum & Bailey. Then, there was Andrew Lloyd Webber. And now (drum roll, please) there’s Misty Michelle Marshall.
At 32, Marshall has just about covered all the bases when it comes to versatility as an entertainer: She has been a fire eater; trapeze whiz; stage, screen and television actress; band leader; fan dancer; juggler; lounge singer; puppet master; impersonator; gymnast; music video artist; composer; lyricist manager … To call Marshall “multi-talented” is like calling Drew Brees a quarterback with potential.
But then again if your mother and father met and were married while doing a stage gig with the Bell Aires, a popular New Orleans band back in the late 1960s and early ’70s, what would you expect?
“It’s kind of a joke that Mom and Dad were going on a live radio show and my mom went into labor with me,” Marshall says. “They drove across the Huey P. Long Bridge along with all the guys in the band to get to the hospital. They were all dressed in ’50s costumes and here they were at the hospital. All the guys had the greaser look with pompadours, and my mom was wearing one of those poodle skirts. They were all right there when I was born. So I’ve been in front of an audience from that moment.”
Marshall has never thought of anything but performing since she could remember. While other girls her age were playing with dolls, she was standing before mirrors in her home emoting with the best of them and giving it her all to imitate the likes of every woman she had ever seen on screen, from Marilyn Monroe to Debbie Reynolds.
She graduated from the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts with a Certification of Mastery in Theater. To add diversity to her resume, she also studied at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York, the Salome Jens Actor’s Studio in Los Angeles and the New Orleans School of Circus Arts.
“It just seemed like one area of entertainment led to another,” she says. “I was learning trapeze; going to circus school five days a week. Then they brought in a fire teacher and I fell in love with that: eating fire, breathing in fireballs. Then I added juggling. I make my own metal fans and I dance with those.”
Listening to Marshall run up and down the dizzying array of the keyboard of her theatrical achievements hardly gives one time to soak in one area before she’s up subconsciously shimmying her barely 5-foot, 105-pound body with every new endeavor. “Then I was a semi-finalist on ‘American Idol’ back in season two. That was one I’ll never forget. Being in the top 38 of more than 70,000 who entered. Wow!”
That gig earned her a half-page photo in TV Guide, a job as weekly correspondent on WVUE Fox Channel 8 and a feature on a little program known as “Access Hollywood.” And that was just for openers for this member of the Screen Actors Guild.
Her local resume alone runs two single-spaced pages and is peppered with such familiar stops as Southern Repertory Theater, Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré, Louisiana Jukebox, New Orleans After Midnight, Hard Rock Café, Checkpoint Charlie’s, Howlin’ Wolf, Monaco Bob’s and House of Blues.
She has played Gulf Coast casinos such as Bally’s, Casino Magic and the Imperial Palace with bands the likes of Jukebox Jubilee and Super Gold. She has sung the national anthem for the New Orleans Zephyrs and kept the crowds hoppin’ at the Louisiana Crawfish Festival with her vocals. She writes songs each day. One song, “Feathers and Beads,” was released during Jazz Fest.
The list runs on for another mile or so. The projects, diversity of talents and times involved are like a maze of colors in a never-ending spectrum.
Marshall is married – her husband has a doctorate in engineering – and she’s a mother to two young children. She says she stays busy “working and teaching,” as well.
“I’ve had people tell me that I would do a lot better if I concentrated on one area,” Marshall says. “But it all makes sense to me because it all feels right. I feel all of these avenues take me to my goal, which is to always be evolving into a better human being. I love every facet of art: music, performing, singing … No matter where I am, I feel that art evolves from me, and that’s the thing in my life. It is what comprises life. When you feel art in everything you do and say and sing and write, when you truly feel that everything you do is an expression of art, then you open so many doors for others. That is the intimacy of art. And that can’t be limited to just one dimension.”