Michelle Aravena

Before she was high-kicking as a Sharkette, listing the possibilities in America and warning poor Maria to “stick to her own kind”, Michelle Aravena was just a regular girl like everyone else. She still is just a regular girl but now she’s also a leading lady in one of Broadway’s most timeless productions. 303 Magazine caught up with Aravena to discuss what it’s like to play Anita and what West Side Storymeans to her.


It’s an honor mixed with pressure to fill some very big shoes. But I have so enjoyed the challenge in trying to bring my own spin on a role made famous by some of our greats. Growing up as an actor/singer/dancer you can’t ask for a more fulfilling experience. I feel blessed to have the opportunity.

Somewhere. If you want to know the message of this piece than just listen to the lyrics of the song. It says it all…

Well, having grown up in theater, showing, sharing and feeling all emotion is not a foreign place for me. Anita is one of the only characters in the show that gets to show you many different sides to her. In the first act she shows you her sassy, comedic, sexy side and in the second act the piece allows her to show fear and vulnerability. She is a well rounded women and not afraid to show it.

I only hope that I pay homage to my predecessors but at the same time remain true to my self and what I can offer this incredible role. It’s a matter of trusting that you were cast for a specific kind of energy that is unique only to you and using that within the boundaries of the show.

From left: Michelle Aravena and Evy Ortiz in the First National Tour of West Side Story. © Carol Rosegg 2011


Unfortunately. This piece would not still be hitting heart strings if we weren’t still dealing with racial issues. We have come a very long way but it’s sad to see that society in a whole still fears what they do not know. Instead of embracing it.

From left: Jeffrey C. Sousa, German Santiago and Michael Scirrotto in the First National Tour of West Side Story. © Carol Rosegg


It’s a timeless piece. It deals with love and hate and this, unfortunately will always be a part of our world.


We personally love the spanish in the show. It has made our characters much more specific and authentic. It adds a whole new level that has never been seen in West Side Story

National Tour of West Side Story. © Joan Marcus, 2010.


“The struggle to find love in a world of bigotry and hate” – Arthur Laurents

This show just reminds me to be as accepting of the unknown as I possibly can be. I’m a lover. So, to do this piece every night is a dream come true.

Denver Center for the Performing Arts
Temple Buell Theatre
1101 13th St.
Denver, CO 80204
Tickets & Tours: 303.893.4100