Nikki Blonsky Leaps from Screen to Stage

09/24/2008 at 06:35 AM EDT

Nikki Blonsky Leaps from Screen to Stage
Nikki Blonsky
Gilbert Flores/Celebrity Photo
Goodbye, Baltimore. And good morning, New York City!

In her first professional appearance since being arrested with her father at a Caribbean airport in August, Hairspray star Nikki Blonsky performed her own cabaret show, called Coming Home, at Feinstein's nightclub in Manhattan Tuesday night.

"I was nervous, but very excited," Blonsky, a high-school production veteran, told PEOPLE after her performance – her first on a New York stage. "My stomach was churning the entire time, but I thought it went well. I'm so excited because I get to perform for 13 more nights."

What she does onstage is belt songs from her movie musical, including one that was cut ("I Can Wait"), as well as samples from the songbooks of such personal favorites as Cher, Bonnie Raitt and Melissa Etheridge.

"They’re very strong women," said Blonsky. "I'm only 19 years old, but I've had a good couple of years, and I'm ready to spread the message to girls who come see the show about being strong women."

During the show, Blonsky gave a shout-out to her family – including her parents and brother, who were in attendance – and dedicated the song "Life of the Party" to her Uncle Steve and Patsy Cline's "Crazy" to her late grandmother.

2007: Nikki goes from ice cream scooper to Hairspray star!

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