Anika Rodriguez Takes the Stage

Rodriguez shares her experience moving to Minnesota and taking part in the performing arts


Zoey Ueland, Staff Writer

Anika Rodriguez ‘23 has always had a passion for the performing arts. Starting in elementary school she found a fondness for the blinding stage lights and the joy that theater brings to the audience that has the pleasure of viewing. Rodriguez’s mother encouraged her to join theater. She shares, “I think [my mom] did choir when she was younger, but I think aside from that…I’m the oldest so I was her first child so…I think she just signed me up for stuff she thought I would really enjoy.” Rodriguez futhers, “In elementary school and even before that my mom signed me up for all of these dance classes and then slowly I started doing voice lessons and started to do acting and musical theater classes so really just from a young age I was doing lots of outside of school performing arts stuff and then I got really interested in doing it in school as well.” Yet, despite her parents’ encouragement her passion is entirely her own and has evolved with every new circumstance. She notes, “I think a lot of it is the process of putting all of [a show] together. It’s always…[so]fun…not only do you hope the people will enjoy [the show] you also get a lot of enjoyment out of it.”

Rodriguez spent most of her childhood living in New York and California before moving to Minnesota in the summer of 2019 for her dad’s job. Despite growing up in states that stereotypically provide more opportunities for acting, singing and dancing, Rodriguez doesn’t feel that performing arts opportunities are confined to stereotypically more star-studded areas. She notes, “I’m gonna guess that there are quite a few opportunities in Minnesota as well considering we are very close to the Twin Cities.” Additionally, even growing up in such states Rodreiguez found, “I was always sort of the one friend who did performing arts.”

Rodreiguez’s passions vary from choir to theater, and although she no longer participates in as many out of school performing arts extracurriculars, Rodriguez has remained an active part of Blake’s performing arts program. She starred in this year’s fall play Still Life With Iris as Iris and last year’s spring musical The Real Hero as Ali. While it remains a great honor, playing the main character comes with its great challenges. Rodreiguez elaborates, “There definitely is [added pressure] because for [Still Life With Iris] my character basically never left the stage during the production. Not only is that line memorization but you have to keep up your energy on stage, you have to know the show well enough that if something goes wrong you can help carry through a scene. Also production wise it’s quite a bit of time management because that’s quite a bit of rehearsal to attend…It’s quite a bit of pressure but it’s also such a great experience to have.”

Outside of the theater Rodriguez steps into other performing arts activities as she is a member of a capella choir as well as Treble. Her enjoyment of the latter comes from a love of shared experiences she and her fellow members get to have, she notes “I think it’s just really cool that so many people can have one common interest in singing and then they can come together and make such beautiful music.”

 Before coming to Blake in 9th grade Rodriguez participated in just as many theater productions. She notes that her favorite role she has ever played has been “Sally in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown ” in her 6th grade musical. Playing Sally, as well as Iris and other characters taught Rodriguez how to empathize with someone you may not relate to as she notes, “I think there is a part of acting that you have to, even if you yourself can’t relate to [the character], you have to find some sort of understanding of who they are in order to play them.”

Like many other activities, COVID-19 had a large impact on theater productions. Despite the ever present challenges, Rodriguez felt grateful for the opportunities Blake had while adapting through the pandemic as well as the prospect of the fall play finally being in person again. She elaborates, “You really need to get creative when it comes to performing in a pandemic [be]cause there’s so many limitations. Such a big thing of high school theater is the live audience so once you take that away it’s kind of, there’s a lot of adapting that needs to take place. Last year we did a movie musical and then for our play we did a Zoom show so we’ve tried to make the most out of the technology that we are lucky to have but definitely it has been such a joy to be back in live theater.” Rodriguez shares that, during the pandemic, she found joy in performing in it of itself: “I think the main satisfaction would be that we were able to put on a show and still have fun doing stuff that is entirely different from what we’ve ever done and what we’ve ever expected to do.”