Singer-actress Carrie Manolakos knows the look: "I'd show up somewhere and people would say, Oh, you're the girl from the 'Creep' video."

Not, you're the girl who left NYU before graduating to star in "Mamma Mia" on Broadway. Or you're the girl who toured with "Wicked."

But instead, you're the singer who covered that 1992 hit by Radiohead (a song the band rarely plays live anymore) in that YouTube video that went viral.

"It was all pretty crazy," she said, looking back a year later.

Taking a break from Manhattan, she's been in Sonoma for the past two weeks performing in "Fly Me to the Moon" as part of Transcendence Theatre's "Broadway Under the Stars" series at Jack London State Park. This weekend, she hooks up with her band and plays two shows in the wine cave at Benziger Winery.

Looking back, she still laughs at how it was the first time she'd ever sung the song "Creep" live with her band -- a move prompted by a recommendation from an ex-boyfriend.

A friend videotaped the show at (Le) Poisson Rouge, a club in New York's Greenwich Village, in April 2012 and a few days later she posted it on Facebook.

Maybe it was the way she builds to a lonely wail midway through. Or the weird disconnect between her heartfelt emotion and the cold, alienating song.

But whatever it was, the Reddit website picked it up. Then Gawker ran with it, posting "This Cover of Radiohead's 'Creep' Will Make Your Ears Orgasm."

Soon after, Josh Groban tweeted, "This gave me chills . . . nice job."

Alec Baldwin not only tweeted about it, but started sending her direct Twitter messages, offering to connect her with his contacts in the music business.

The New Yorker magazine chimed in, describing how Manolakos "performs the song with perfect earnestness, closing her eyes and choking back tears."

"I had no team at the time -- no PR, no anything," she said. "People were like, 'How did you do this?' and I said, 'I don't know.' It was just something that people resonated with. But it was super simple. No tricks. No bells and whistles. No cute kittens. It was just a song."

That same allure, the simplicity of song, was what hooked her nearly two decades ago while growing up in Syracuse and performing in her first play, "Fiddler on the Roof." High school theater beckoned and she sang onstage in musicals every chance she got. At the same time, she was listening to pop singers like Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey and folkies like Joni Mitchell and James Taylor.

By age 21, she was touring with the hit musical "Mamma Mia." But it was while on tour with "Wicked" in 2009, as an understudy in the Elphaba role, that she was suddenly faced with countless hours of down time -- something she hadn't experienced before. To fill the void, she started writing her own music, learning to play guitar and piano on the road.

In 2012, Manolakos released her debut album, "Echo," a moving collection of seven original songs, but it was somewhat overshadowed by the Radiohead cover.

" 'Creep' was awesome, but still it's just a viral video," she said. "To really have some longevity and to do this as a career for the rest of your life, you have to really work hard."

After meeting with music industry reps in Los Angeles and Nashville, her goal is to focus more on writing and performing her own music. But she's not turning her back on theater. This fall, she's set to play the lead in a musical about serial killer Lizzie Borden.

And, it goes without saying, in concert she still sings "Creep."

"I started to wonder -- is this the kind of thing I'm going to have to do at every show? A couple of times I've thought, what if I just walk offstage and don't do it and see what happens?"

(Bay Area freelancer John Beck writes about entertainment for The Press Democrat. You can reach him at 280-8014, john@sideshowvideo.com and follow on Twitter @becksay.)

View video: <a href="http://youtu.be/aZ5ZclZTeTU">http://youtu.be/aZ5ZclZTeTU</a>

(note: video contains adult language)