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Meet Marc Rossio
  • The Marvelous Toy

  • Written by Barbara A. Topolosky
  • Monday, 25 January 2010
  • Gahanna resident, Marc Rossio, spends his time playing guitar, composing, singing, touring, and recording music. He loves his audience, and the feeling is mutual. Some of them even give him hugs. Preschoolers are his biggest fans, but their older brothers, sisters, and parents embrace his music too. This creative children's musician uses " The Marvelous Toy" as his stage name. He borrowed the name from the title of a Tom Paxton song. His spontaneous act fits perfectly with the description of the toy in the song.

    It went "zip" when it moved and" bop "when it stopped And "whirr" when it stood still

    Rossio has long curly hair, a beard, and a warm smile. Although Rossio's stage persona is hip, casual, and fun- he is passionate about teaching children about Judaism. In his CD, L'chaim he introduces prayer, jewish holidays, and lighting Sabbath candles He teaches a little Hebrew too In addition, Rossio, composes music for all children. His CD, Batteries Not Included, includes classic children's songs, and Rossio's original compositions. Pottery Barn For Kids sponsors him, and he gives shows throughout the U.S.

    Nine years ago the Rossios were expecting a new addition to their family. They were not happy that Rossio's job as a graphic artist required long hours; it put a strain on the family which now included daughter, Hannah. When son, Jack, came along, Rossio proudly took on a new job,stay-at-home dad. Things have changed for Rossio since he made that pivotal decision years ago. He is a well-known children's entertainer with several best selling CD's under his belt. XM/SiriusRadio-satellite radio- featured his music on Radio Chanukah. Other artists have recorded his music, and he is now lecturing at conferences like the URJ Biennial that recently took place in Toronto, Canada. He also served on a editorial committee for the URJ to create the best musical TotShabbat CD with an accompanying book. Rossio and his two brothers came from a happy loving Jewish family. His mother taught third grade for many years at Temple Israel Religious School, and his father was the administrator of the temple. Rossio's parents taught their children traditional Jewish values. Performing comes naturally to Rossio. When he was a youngster, he appeared in plays and television commercials.

    After graduating with a fine arts degree from The Ohio State University, Rossio explored different careers: standup comic, retail clothing salesperson, ad executive, graphic artist,and finally stay-at-home dad.

    Ironically, his stay-at-home status launched his musical career.

    When son, Jack, became preschool age, Rossio noticed he admired a group of singing Australians called the Wiggles. Rossio learned some of their songs on his guitar, and Jack paid attention. Jack belonged to a play group, and Rossio decided to sing to the children. The moms were impressed, and one of them suggested he start entertaining at children's birthday parties.

    "That was the start of my career as a children's entertainer," said Rossio. He started making up his own songs, and they caught on with the birthday party crowd. About the same time, he accepted a job teaching kindergarten at Temple Israel Religious School. He used his songs as a teaching tool, and put together some other children's programs. Not only were the children enjoying the programs, but the parents seemed just as interested.

    Soon he began doing some Shabbat programs at the Columbus JCC. Agdas Achim preschool students also look forward to his visits. One rainy day Rossio was at Easton Town Center with his children. He happened to have his guitar with him, and he ushered the children into McDonalds. On a whim, he took out his guitar and started playing and singing. This led to a popular weekly appearance at the restaurant.

    It was time for Rossio to start recording some of his music. He met Dan Green from Amerisound Systems. Dan introduced him to Larry Cook, a string player and sound engineer. They collaborated on his first secular CD, Batteries Not Included . " Dan Larry, and I are like a three legged stool. We make music and laugh along the way,"said Rossio. Jewish organizations, temples, and centers throughout the U.S. invite Rossio to perform.

    "Marc Rossio is a wonderful composer of contemporary Jewish music and song. Through his music and caring charisma he enables Judaism to come alive for his audience both young and old. Congregation B'nai Torah of Highland Park, Ilinois, considers him to be an integral part of our spiritual community," said Rabbi Debra Nesselson. Rossio's music is on a Craig Taubman CD Compilation "My Very First Jewish Celebrate CD Vol 1, of the international Celebrate CD Series. Taubman says," Marc Rossio aka the marvelous toy is indeed marvelous, and more. He is a skilled performer, a gifted writer and perhaps, most importantly, a real good guy." Daughter, Hannah,is following the family musical tradition. She recently won a role in a Gahanna production of The Sound of Music. She also appears with her father on several YouTube videos. The Rossio's are glad they followed their own instincts, and made their children top priority.

    " I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for my wife, Lori. Her support, opinions, and role as a sounding board for my music has been a huge part of my career. I'm nothing without her," says Rossio. If you want more information about Rossio, visit his website at www.]

    Sharing 'marvelous' humor, music, and love

    When Marc "The Marvelous Toy" Rossio, left his job to become a stay-at-home dad, he found that his passion for music and entertaining his children was not only a way to connect and interact with his children but a way to reinforce their verbal and motor skills.

    Marc's newly released CD, "Batteries Not Included" was inspired by his children, Hannah and Jack. Marc was raised in a home filled with humor, music, creativity, and love, and he would like to share these gifts with all children.

  • Article from the Messenger

    The Marvelous Toy" knows how to play with a purpose

    By John Matuszak Eastside Editor

    Some toys are entertaining, and some are educational. “The Marvelous Toy” is both, for parents as well as children - and doesn’t even need batteries.

    “The Marvelous Toy” is Marc Rossio, a 40-year-old local singer-songwriter for children who, in just three years, has leaped from performances at birthday parties and preschools to the brink of national and international recognition.

    Rossio will perform at the Leo Yassenoff Jewish Community Center Sept. 11 at 4 p.m. as the first act of the 2005-06 Mim Chenfeld Children’s Art Fund Series, named for the highly regarded Columbus educator and author. The event also will be a celebration of the release of Rossio’s second compact disc, “L’Chaim - To Life,” a collection of Judaic-themed songs inspired by the children of central Ohio and the JCC.

    The JCC is where Rossio found his audience, and he returns every Friday to conduct a musical Shabbat Sabbath assembly for the kids of the Early Education Program. His professional moniker comes from the Tom Paxton song about a delightful but undefinable doohickey that is passed down from father to son. The image is an apt metaphor for his own career and the influences he has accumulated along the way, Rossio commented.

    “My niche is everything.” It also describes the playfulness and purpose in his music.

    Rossio took a roundabout route to get to where he is today. Born in San Francisco, his family moved to New Jersey and Pittsburgh before arriving in Columbus when Marc was 10. He credits his father with being his “biggest influence,” particularly on his sense of humor. “We’d have these two-hour dinners. We’d just sit around and laugh.”

    His mother, a teacher, passed along a love of children. Her family had also been involved in music and show business. Marc picked up a guitar at 9. After graduating from Walnut Ridge High School, he spent a couple of years doing stand-up comedy, opening for acts that went on to national prominence. He earnied a degree in fine arts at Ohio State University, then went into his father’s apparel business. His working life also included stints in sales and running his own advertising company.

    But the 70-hour weeks weren’t conducive to family life, and when son Jack was born he decided to become a stay-at-home dad. That career move would prove to be life-altering.

    Spending time with his son watching the children’s show “The Wiggles” showed Rossio how much influence music has on children, particularly when Jack began singing with an Australian accent. He had kept up with his own musical interests, and was encouraged by friends to hire himself out to birthday parties. At Temple Israel synagogue, he was enlisted to put together a children’s Haigh Holidays program. Attendance jumped from 70 the first year to 450 two years later. A stint working six hours a day with the JCC summer camps, while “torture” on his voice, further pointed Rossio in the right direction. “It was where I found my audience. I learned how to work with large groups of kids. It was also the first place I worked with children of different religions.”

    His performances became a mix of “high-energy immaturity” with knock-knock jokes and sing-alongs, and lessons “to help children through childhood” and such traumas as going to the dentist and getting shots. He released his first CD, “Batteries Not Included,” a collection of secular songs, in 1993. After attending a conference with some the world’s top Jewish entertainers for children, Rossio was inspired to compose songs that would teach about Jewish traditions and Old Testament values.

    “It’s like my rabbi says, 'We can all learn to be better persons,'” Rossio said. “My Silent Prayer” is an eloquent offering of thanks, a plea for compassion for those in need and a petition for knowledge. “The Little Mouse” teaches about the rituals of the Sabbath through the eyes of a furry little creature who watches and gets to share in the challah bread. The songs not only teach Jewish children about their own religion, but can educate other children and promote tolerance, Rossio hopes. And then the kids go home and teach the parents. “I teach Judaism as a community, not as a religion,” Rossio observed. Rossio hasn’t forgotten how to leaven his lessons with a little silliness. “Oogiot” teaches kids the funny-sounding Hebrew word for cookie.

    The music is having a particularly profound effect on children with special needs. A school in Atlanta used Rossio’s CD as a motivator to get a disabled girl to take independent steps. He later attended the girl’s birthday party and was treated “like a rock star.” “The Marvelous Toy” is keeping it all in the family. Daughter Hannah sings with him on the CD, and Jack is ready to make his studio debut.

    Rossio’s talents have attracted attention across the region and the country. He performs at Jewish centers and other venues around the midwest, and has been part of the Columbus Library concert series for two years. His buskering at Easton Town Center earned him a regular gig at the McDonald’s there, serenading the Wednesday lunchtime crowd. The sale of his CDs benefits McDonald’s charities. When the restaurant began attracting the largest mid-day crowd in the area, it piqued the curiosity of a top executive. Rossio is now in talks with the chain about sponsoring a local television show. His CDs are circulating at Nickelodeon, the children’s cable network, and his songs are being included in a compilation of Jewish entertainers that will be distributed worldwide. His ambition is to have a national TV show, but he promises to always come back to the JCC. What makes “The Toy” run? “Passion’s the key to everything I do.”

    The possibility of fame hasn’t taken the kid out of him. “I’m the biggest four-year-old you’ll meet,” Rossio explained. “My brothers used to tell me Śgrow up.’ Now they call and say 'I’m glad you didn’t listen to us.'”

    Tickets for the event are $3 for children ages 2 and above, and $5 for adults. Series patrons can purchase four tickets to each of three events for $150. Upcoming events include creative movement with dancer and author Latifa Berry Kropf Nov, 13, and a Feb. 26 concert with children’s performer Louie. A patron dinner honoring Mim Chenfeld will follow the concert. For tickets or information, call 559-6294.

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