Mandy Gonzalez at Cafe Carlyle NYC - New York City Article
Mandy Gonzalez @ Cafe Carlyle Follow @nyccitiview
For most of her career thus far, singer-actress Mandy Gonzalez has been associated with the Broadway canon of Lin Manuel Miranda, including both of his two Tony-winning shows, In the Heights and Hamilton. Therefore, when she made her debut at the Cafe Carlyle on Tuesday (October 24), we regular habitues had no idea what to expect, except, possibly a mixture of rap and salsa. What we received was a well-thought-out mix of the very traditional (“I Only Have Eyes For You,” albeit delivered in the style of The Flamingos, rather than Dick Powell) and the cutting edge (like “Fearless,” written for her by Mr. Miranda, and the title of her new album). Apart from her winning personality and high style, the show also succeeds by virtue of continual musical surprise: ie, Andrew Lippa’s “Raise the Roof” is a likely opener, but I didn’t expect to hear it delivered en clave (6/8?) - and it’s followed by “On a Clear Day,” but in straight ahead 4/4 swing. Throughout, she constantly mixes genres in a way that never fails to hold our attention: when she sings “As If We Never Said Goodbye,” it’s now a love song, the kind sung from one human being to another, rather than an aria of self-delusion (the way it is in Sunset Boulevard) and she also renders Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” in a way that seems, for the first time (to me, at least) more personal and intimate than anthemic. She ends with a perfect encore, another highly individual interpretation of an iconic song, a thoroughly re-imagined and de-waltzed “Que Sera Sera” (which seems especially moving as delivered by a Latina performer). Yet the highlight has already arrived a few songs earlier, when she builds to a well-considered sequence from Joe Raposo’s “Being Green” to “Defying Gravity,” now an empowering mantra for green-skinned people everywhere. For her Carlyle debut, Ms. Gonzalez doesn’t exactly defy gravity, but rather she makes it work in her favor.
The Café Carlyle
35 E 76th Street, (212) 744-1600
Through Saturday (November 4)
photo: David Andrako