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‘Hamilton’ star to celebrate fearlessness and love of song at Irvine Barclay Theatre

‘Hamilton’ star to celebrate fearlessness and love of song at Irvine Barclay Theatre
Mandy Gonzalez will celebrate her love of Broadway, pop songs, standards and highlights off her latest album at a March 15 concert at Irvine Barclay Theatre. (Photo by Jacob Blickenstaff)

She's been tapped to be the voice of Nina Rosario for "In the Heights," Princess Amneris in Elton John and Tim Rice's "Aida," and the ultimate green witch, Elphaba, in "Wicked."

Mandy Gonzalez is starring on Broadway as Angelica Schuyler in the mega-hit Lin-Manuel Miranda musical "Hamilton," but the New York City-based performer is heading to Southern California for an additional special engagement.

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During a week off from "Hamilton," Gonzalez, 39, will perform March 15 at the Irvine Barclay Theatre, where she plans to showcase her love of show tunes, pop and standards, as well as highlights off her debut album, "Fearless."

It should be a celebratory night, where she hopes not only to share a universal theme of overcoming fear, but also inspire listeners to come together, pursue their passions and become an undeniable force.

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The concept for her album started with the song "Fearless," the title track written by Miranda, whom Gonzalez has known since she starred in the original 2008 cast of his musical "In the Heights," receiving a a Drama Desk Award for her work.

"I had to write my dear friend — who is now uber-famous — asking, 'Would you write a song?' " Gonzalez said with a laugh, calling from New York City. "I wanted an anthem."

Miranda asked what "fearless" meant to her, and she shared with him the story of her parents.

Mandy Gonzalez, center, who is currently starring in the Tony Award-winning hit musical "Hamilton" as Angelica Schuyler, will perform March 15 at Irvine Barclay Theatre.
Mandy Gonzalez, center, who is currently starring in the Tony Award-winning hit musical "Hamilton" as Angelica Schuyler, will perform March 15 at Irvine Barclay Theatre. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Gonzalez's father is Mexican-American. He grew up a migrant worker, following the crop throughout the United States. At 18, he was drafted to fight in the Vietnam War, but felt alone overseas without anyone writing to him.

Her Jewish mother, who was from the Santa Clarita Valley, wanted to join the Peace Corps, but her parents deemed it unacceptable. She instead wrote letters to soldiers, including the man who would become Gonzalez's father.

After the war, the veteran returned to a divided nation that didn't embrace soldiers. He showed up on the letter writer's doorstep. They fell in love, married and had three children.

Their parents didn't support the union, and the couple faced struggles with different cultures, but they followed their hearts and eventually made peace with their families.

"I grew up with nothing but love," Gonzalez said of her childhood in Santa Clarita.

Within two weeks, Miranda wrote the lyrics: "We can be fearless. We can try to change the world. And when we fall, begin again, check in again. I know that you can, I can do it all."

"Now that story lives on," Gonzalez said. "For me it's never allowing people to put you in a box, or putting limits on yourself, and that's a powerful thing."

It's a message she wishes to spread in her social media campaign: #FearlessSquad.

Last year, Gonzalez said she was overwhelmed by online negativity and wanted to create a community of empowerment, where people could work together and live out their dreams.

She took a picture of herself with "Hamilton" actors Javier Munoz and James Monroe Iglehart under the show's marquee and posted it on Twitter, writing, "My #FearlessSquad!!! Who's with me?? Post!!"

Fans declared themselves members, posting pictures of their own #FearlessSquad. They are still using Twitter and Instagram to encourage each other, Gonzalez said.

One young woman, who was diagnosed with cancer, now has a community checking in on her. Whenever Gonzalez runs into fellow squad members she asks for their social media handles and enjoys putting names to faces.

"We talk about everything," Gonzalez said. "I want it to always be a place where people feel welcome and heard. I don't ever mean we don't live without fear, but we can support each other and have less fear ruling our lives."

Anywhere she tours, Gonzalez works to get the community involved in a performance.

For her upcoming shows in Florida, Gonzalez learned the Delray Beach Crest Theatre was 30 minutes from Parkland, where the deadliest high school shooting in American history killed 17 people on Feb. 14.

She reached out to students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High and invited them to sing with her on stage March 12.

For the Irvine concert, Gonzalez said she is most excited to see family and friends in the audience, while also spotlighting a special group of singers joining her in the chorus.

She reached out to a close friend, who is the choir director at Valencia High School in Santa Clarita, and asked that 40 of the choral students perform a few songs with her.

"It's becoming a healing and powerful week," Gonzalez said. "I've grown up a lot as a person and want to be someone who can lift others up and do it for the greater good. My hope is for people to take away that they can do anything, and that taking 'no' is never an option."

If You Go

What: Mandy Gonzalez

When: 8 p.m. March 15

Where: Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive

Cost: $40 to $150

Information: (949) 854-4646 or thebarclay.org.

Twitter: @KathleenLuppi

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