Days before “In the Heights” won the 2008 Tony Award for best musical, Mandy Gonzalez was wowing critics and nearly everyone while playing a college student facing life-altering decisions.

Veteran Columbus singer and vocal teacher Janie Gordon reached a quick conclusion right after she and son Chris caught the show back then on Broadway: That girl can sing.

“Her voice is effortless,” Janie Gordon said. “She has a very pleasant, natural sound that’s just beautiful to listen to.”

Gonzalez, whose Broadway star has risen higher with roles in other productions such as “Wicked” since then, brings that sound to the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic’s Cabaret at The Commons series at 7:30 p.m. today in downtown Columbus. Her presentation will feature some of her stage solos such as “Breathe” and “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” plus other material ranging from Prince’s “Kiss” to Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation.”

Story continues below gallery

The series is a collaboration with Indianapolis’ The Cabaret at The Columbia Club, where Gonzalez was scheduled to perform Wednesday.

Locally, last month’s cabaret event with homegrown vocalist Mary Claire King, also boasting Broadway chops, sold out the 400-seat venue. Janie Gordon pointed out that this weekend in Columbus “is an awesome one for the arts” with Gonzalez performing tonight, Columbus native and Broadway singer Marja Harmon performing Friday for the Langston Hughes Project, and internationally touring vocalists The Real Group appearing Saturday.

Margaret Powers, the Philharmonic’s executive director, said Gonzalez will share stories “that offer insight into her ascent to the Broadway stage and success.”

The California native got her professional start as a backup singer with Bette Midler. But her Broadway debut came 2001 in “Aida.”

“She has the typical star quality you want in a female lead,” Gordon said.

One critic recently labeled her “a fun, sexy party girl” in her cabaret role, “with hair as big as her belting voice.”

Come to the cabaret

What: Broadway vocalist Mandy Gonzalez presenting “Love All Ways” as part of the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic’s series, Cabaret at The Commons.

When: 7:30 p.m. today.

Where: The Commons, 300 Washington St. in Columbus.

Tickets: $50 for VIP, including backstage post-cabaret party; $30 for preferred seating and $15 for general admission.

Information: 812-376-2638, ext. 110, or thecip.org.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.