JHS student to sing with Broadway star



JASPER — A Jasper High School student is set to perform a duet with a Broadway star.

Mandy Gonzalez selected Alexis Kleiman to sing virtually with her at a concert that will be streamed online by Jasper Community Arts on Saturday evening. The 16-year-old was selected from a pool of six submissions for the part, which she described as an amazing opportunity.

“Truthfully, I’m kind of a little still in awe about it,” said Alexis, who is a junior at JHS. “It’s one of those things where it’s like, I never really imagined this ever happening to me. Especially not this young.”

The virtual performance was made possible through sponsorship dollars from Masterbrand Cabinets. It will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will feature Broadway, standards and pop songs — as well as a live Q&A and Gonzalez’s duet with Alexis.

Tickets for the performance are $15 for each access code and $35 for those viewing the stream in groups of three or more. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit jasperarts.org or call 482-3070.

“It’s her coming into your home,” Kyle Rupert, director of the Jasper Arts Department, said of the upcoming performance. “And it’s almost like a one-on-one kind of thing.”

According to a Jasper Community Arts press release, Gonzalez has thrilled audiences on Broadway and lit up the screen on television. While most recently starring as Angelica Schuyler in the hit Broadway musical "Hamilton," she is best known for her emotional portrayal of Nina Rosario in the Tony Award winning, Lin-Manuel Miranda Broadway musical, "In the Heights" — a role she originally created Off-Broadway and which received a Drama Desk Award for Best Ensemble.

“Mandy has starred in some of the biggest musical productions in the history of musical theater,” Rupert said.

Alexis, has been performing for about six years; her career began when she moved from to Jasper from Louisville. Her recent roles have included Ursula in a JHS production of “The Little Mermaid” and Little Red in Actors Community Theatre’s rendition of “Into the Woods.” She has also done backstage work and is the student representative on the ACT board.

A 2018 “Hamilton” calendar featuring Gonzalez was a source of inspiration for Alexis. She’d look at Gonzalez and other cast members and think, “Oh my gosh, I wish that could be me,” the girl reflected.

Her passion for performing is rooted in the emotional portrayals she is tasked with bringing to life on stage. Highlighting the full spectrum of emotions — and quickly changing between them — is what drew her to the craft.

“I think performing, it exerts a level of freedom that I can’t find mostly anywhere else,” Alexis explained. “Nothing will ever compare to that on-stage adrenaline rush of just going and the lights coming up on you.”

Saturday, she will sing “For Good” — a song that is part of the musical “Wicked” — with Gonzalez. Kleiman submitted a prerecorded taping of her singing the piece to Gonzalez’s team, who will incorporate the recording in Gonzalez’s show.

Rupert encouraged readers to attend the virtual event because it supports a local arts organization. He explained that the performance will be live and that Gonzalez and her music director will provide “the engineering resource to make sure that it works well and that it works seamlessly.” He also said that Gonzalez will stream from a studio setting.

Alexis lives in Jasper with her father, Jason, and her sister, Ashleigh.

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