Michelle J. Rodriguez is a vocalist, songwriter, musical theater composer and actor. Born in Orlando, Florida to Puerto Rican parents and raised in Kirkland, Washington and Lexington, Kentucky, Ms. Rodriguez sings and writes songs that shake your heart and remind you of home in all its forms. With a voice that is “clear and compelling” and a sound that features “flourishes of bolero, bossa nova and even jazz” (Chicago Tribune), Ms. Rodriguez captivates as a performer at venues like Joe's Pub (NYC), Ars Nova (NYC), The Hideout (Chicago) and Steppenwolf (Chicago) with her stunning vocals and vulnerability onstage.
Ms. Rodriguez made her Joe's Pub début at the Public Theater in November of 2018 after a sold-out performance of her original musical, East o', West o'! at ANTFest at Ars Nova this past June, which earned her a mention in The New Yorker. She has since returned to Joe’s Pub for performances and song débuts and is currently working on a musical commission for The Public Theater.
Musical theatre writing credits include bluegrass/folk musical East o’, West o’! (Ars Nova, book music, lyrics, LookOut Series at Steppenwolf), the geriatric coming-of-age story Betty White: The Musical! (Immediate Theatre, book by Jimmy Grzelak), cross-cultural kids-of-immigrants tale JIRAN (book, music, lyrics; SPACE at Ryder Farm residency), Chicago crime thriller Bibliophile (reading at Victory Gardens produced by El Semillero, book and lyrics co-written by Jose Nateras), and ROKERA, a musical about three young women of color who start a rock band in Brooklyn (Rough Draft Festival, LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, book by Tatiana Suárez Pico). Michelle recently composed music for the play AZUL by Christina Quintana (INK’d Festival, Playwrights’ Realm). Her music and theater work has been supported by residencies and grants from the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts, Salonathon and Camp Wandawega, SPACE at Ryder Farm, New York Theater Workshop and the Salonathon Chicago Performance Lab at the University of Chicago.
Theatre performance credits include La Havana Madrid (lead role u/s, Teatro Vista/Steppenwolf/Goodman Theater) (Vocal Director for Goodman run), Ava in East o’, West o’ (Ars Nova), early iterations of Hundred Days by The Bengsons, The Fly Honey Show (The Inconvenience), Marta in Company (Williams Theatre) and Jacques Brel Is Alive And Well And Living In Paris (Williams Theatre).
Michelle has kept up a rigorous international teaching artist practice, spending two years teaching music, theater and art at the Monteverde Friends School in Monteverde, Costa Rica and visiting King's Academy in Madaba, Jordan twice as an artist in residence. In the United States she has worked fostering creativity and teaching songwriting and musical theater songwriting in the Montpelier, Vermont public schools and in programs at the Chicago Public Library.
Michelle was trained in voice as a high school student at the University of Kentucky under Noemi Lugo, is a proud public-school-trained violinist and received her BA in Theatre and Arabic Studies from Williams College in Williamstown, MA, where she studied cabaret and performance with The Bengsons and songwriting with Bernice Lewis.
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Cover Photo by Lukas Kyp-Johnson, other photos and styling by Alexa Gould-Kavet