Katy actress lead role in 'West Side Story'

“West Side Story” is one of the most iconic musical dramas in American theater. 

This summer, the George Theater is showing live performances of the popular show, and a Katy native is leading the show as the female protagonist, Maria.

Nicole Maridan, 21, grew up in Katy. She attended James E. Taylor High School, and honed her love for theater on her high school stage. 

She gained experience performing live in the Tommy Tune Awards and now studies Vocal Performance at Southern Methodist University.

Maridan has plenty of experience on smaller community stages, but her breakout role as Maria is her first foray into professional theater.

“This is a show that I've been in love with since I was a kid,” Maridan said. “This was one of the musicals that really made me realize how much I wanted to do this forever.”

Maridan is also an accomplished singer/songwriter with a background in opera, and “West Side Story” has given her an opportunity to meld her love of singing with acting on stage. 

“Going from learning all this classical music and then going to sing ‘West Side Story’: it's been fun to bring that kind of training into a musical theater setting,” she said.

One of the biggest divergences from the small stage to the big stage for Maridan is staying grounded despite her excitement over performing in an enormous theater. The George Theater is located in downtown Houston and can accommodate over 450 guests.

Said Maridan: “I have to be on a balcony for part of the show. Being up there, looking down at my fellow actors singing and performing, and to look out and see just a lot of people in the audience, I always have to check back into the show and into the character because I end up being so surprised and so excited to see everyone in the audience.”

Maridan hopes to make a career as an actress and singer, but she has an open mind as to how that dream materializes. 

“I don't want to limit myself to what I am going to be doing,” Maridan said. “I want to be able to perform on Broadway one day. I’d like to be an actress and perform my own music. I'd even want to try for film acting.”

The George Theater’s production of “West Side Story” runs from June 28 to July 28. For more information on the performance or to purchase tickets, visit www.adplayers.org/west-side-story