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Hamilton Star Mandy Gonzales Sings Preview of Philly POPS Sensory-Friendly Holiday Concert on WRTI

Singer Mandy Gonzalez

Broadway star Mandy Gonzalez and Philly POPS Music Director Designate Todd Ellison on piano will be our guests on Tuesday, December 4th to perform Live on WRTI's Facebook page with host Susan Lewis. Get a sneak preview of A Philly POPS Christmas concert series and learn about the POPS' Sensory-Friendly concert scheduled for December 5th.

Watch the performance on the WRTI Facebook page

A Philly POPS Christmas: Spectacular Sounds of the Season! features Christmas classics and sing-along tunes at the Kimmel Center from December 1 to 22. Todd Ellison conducts the full 65-piece Philly Pops Orchestra, along with vocalist Mandy Gonzales, organist Peter Richard Conte, The Philly POPS Festival Chorus, the Philadelphia Boys Choir, and the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Choir.

WRTI program: 

  • Let it Snow
  • Christmas Morning (by Todd Ellison, with lyrics by Stephen Cole)
  • Remember Me, from Disney's Coco
  • [A surprise!] 

December 5th is a special "Family-Friendly Show with a Sensory-Friendly Zone" at the Kimmel Center. What's that? 

The program of music is the same.  The orchestra seating of the Kimmel will be designated a "sensory-friendly" zone -- a welcoming, "shush-free" environment for people of all ages, including people with sensitivities to sound, cognitive processing differences, and anyone who desires a more relaxed concert setting. Features include:

  • Lighting at mid-level. 
  • Amplified Sound will be kept at mid-level.  Guests may bring headphones and noise cancelling headphones will also be available through Art-Reach. 
  • Concert hall doors remain open, so people can come and go as they please. 
  • Guests are invited to move, walk around, vocalize and be who they are.
  • A cool down space  with bean bag chairs outside Verizon Hall will be available for those who want to take a break. 
  • Fidget toys and sensory stress toys will be available. People may also bring comfort objects to the concert. 
  • Occupational therapists will be on hand.

Mandy Gonzales currently stars as Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton and on the CBS hit, Madam Secretary.  She originated the role of Nina Rosario in the Tony award-winning show, In the Heights, and starred as Elphaba in the Broadway production of Wicked.  Mandy is a Warner Music artist and recently released her debut album, FEARLESS, which debuted at #13 on the iTunes pop charts.

Mandy is the proud founder of #FearlessSquad, a social media movement for inclusiveness and belonging. #FearlessSquad connects millions of people around the world, encourages them to be their best selves and helps them empower each other. She also recently published a widely cited article in the Harvard Business Review on how to overcome one's fear of public speaking and be more confident in one's communication and leadership.

Hailed by The New York Times as one of "Broadway's electric conductors," Todd Ellison's career has spanned many roles, ranging from award-winning Broadway shows to several seasons as the music director for the "Radio City Christmas Spectacular." Currently, he is the Music Director-Designate of The Philly Pops, the Music Supervisor and Arranger of the new Broadway-bound musical, Roman Holiday, and the composer of the award-winning musical, The Black and White Ball.

Among Ellison's Broadway credits are An American in Paris, Annie, La Cage aux Folles, Elton John's Lestat, 42nd Street, Once Upon a Mattress, and How to Succeed in Business. The list goes on! Todd led The Philly POPS for its first Memorial Day concert at Longwood Gardens in 2015. He has since conducted 2017's Best of Broadway and 2018's Memorial Salute concerts.

Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.