Junior Music Theater student Emily Marsilia has been cast as a main stage performer on the new cruise Disney Dream.
Meaghan Haugh

In the beloved classic, Pinocchio, the Blue Fairy assigns Jiminy Cricket as the wooden boy’s conscience. Pinocchio asks “What’s conscience?” and Jiminy Cricket responds by saying, “Conscience is that still, small voice that people won’t listen to. That’s just the trouble with the world today.” After the Blue Fairy knights Jiminy Cricket with his new title, she turns to Pinocchio and advises, “be a good boy and always let your conscience be your guide.”

Similarly, you could say it was Emily Marsilia’s conscience that led her to Rider University’s Westminster College of the Arts and pushed her to continue her studies even when she faced uncertainty. Still, Marsilia, a junior Music Theater major, listened to her inner voice and was determined to succeed.

Now she’s living her own fairy tale ending. Marsilia was recently cast as a main stage performer on the new cruise Disney Dream. Currently, she is training with the cast in Toronto and will rehearse there until June, before the cast crosses over to the ship. The cruise will tour from July until mid-January 2012 and will feature three shows a day.

If you were to tell Marsilia two years ago that she would have made it this far in her career as a junior, she would have looked at you in disbelief. After graduating from high school in Santa Cruz, Calif. a year early, she followed her instinct to only apply to Rider University. However, she soon learned that her father had cancer and questioned whether she should begin her studies.

“He wanted me to go to school,” said Marsilia, who had followed her father’s advice. “My dad passed away during my first year of college. At that time, I questioned myself a lot. I questioned if I was good enough. I questioned what I wanted to do with my life. I was 99 percent ready to leave in order to figure it out. It was a rough time.”

Marsilia finished out the semester before returning home for the summer where she immersed herself into teaching dance at her local dance studio. It was there, that she realized that she really wanted to pursue her dream in Music Theater and made the decision to return to Rider.

“I really dedicated a lot of my emotions and physical self to my work. This was what I was at Westminster to do. I think I forgot that,” Marsilia said. “I would have conversations with my professors. I wanted to make the most out of my education. They told me, ‘You got to believe in yourself.’”

Once she believed in herself, she saw that she was capable of achieving her dream. Her hard work paid off when she landed the lead role in the Westminster Choir College’s production of Drowsy Chaperone in March.

Later this semester, her voice professor, Dr. Mariann Cook, invited Ron LaRosa, director of Global Talent Casting for Disney Parks and Resorts, to one of her classes. The students were asked to prepare audition pieces to present and to treat the class as a master class audition workshop. LaRosa ended up recording Marsilia’s audition.

The next day, she received a phone call and an e-mail from LaRosa, requesting an audio of her script reading. Cook and Marsilia worked on a recording that they sent to LaRosa. Later that evening, he told Marsilia that he would send the video to the casting director, who would have a decision the following Monday. She was one of six women being considered for the role. The next morning, Marisilia received a phone call from LaRosa with exciting news. The casting director wanted to cast her for Disney productions.

“The best way to describe my reaction was I felt every possible human emotion in the time span of one second,” she said. “I didn’t accept right away and told him that I would get back to him. He asked me to let him know by noon that Monday if I was taking the job.”

The next day, Marsilia pretended that she was an incoming freshman trying out for the musical theater program. She walked onto the stage and looked out to the theater faculty, including Cook, and told them the news. “They were all so thrilled,” she said. “They said, ‘You got the job as a junior in college. You’re going to be successful. This is your dream. You need to take it.’”

Marsilia followed her professors’ advice and took the position. So far, she said the experience of rehearsing for the tour has broadened her horizons.

“I thought I would graduate, move to the city and audition for a couple of years. It happened that I was offered a job now. I don’t know what the reason is or why it happened. It’s like everything in life, you put your all into what you do,” said Marsilia, who plans to return to Rider in spring 2012. “The stars were aligned. I was at the right place at the right time. I think it’s one of those magical Disney moments.”