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PBS special powered Under the Streetlamp

By JACK W. HILL SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

This article was published December 20, 2012 at 3:39 a.m.

under-the-streetlamp-julia-maish-manager-of-media-relations-wttw11987wfmt-5400-north-st-louis-avenue-chicago-il-60625-4698-773-509-5551-office-773-509-5300-fax-jmaishwttwcom

Under the Streetlamp Julia Maish Manager of Media Relations wttw11?98.7wfmt 5400 North St. Louis Avenue Chicago IL 60625-4698 (773) 509-5551 office ¨ (773) 509-5300 fax jmaish@wttw.com

— Under the Streetlamp has wasted no time moving into position to be under the spotlight from now on, although the relatively new vocal quartet has been there for some time. The four young men all have extensive musical theater credits with one show in common - Jersey Boys.

All four were members of the cast, either in Chicago or on the national tour, but not all at the same time, explains Shonn Wiley, whose role in that acclaimed show was that of Bob Gaudio, who wrote most of the Four Seasons’ hits. Wiley’s partners in Under the Streetlamp are Christopher Kale Jones, whose role in Jersey Boys was that of lead singer Frankie Valli; Michael Ingersoll, who played Nick Massi, and Michael Cunio, who played Tommy DeVito. Jones and Ingersoll were in the first national tour of Jersey Boys.

None of the four men,however, are real, live, actual “Jersey boys” - Wiley is from Adrian, Mich.; Ingersoll is from Dayton, Ohio; Cunio is from Seattle; and Jones is from Hawaii.

“We had all met in Chicago and had a great time singing and hanging out together,” Wiley says, “and we started doing some gigs around Chicago in our spare time, singing all the great music of that era, the 1950s and ’60s, not just the songs by the Four Seasons, but what we called the great ‘American Radio Songbook.’ And that didn’t even exclude songs from across the pond, as in the British Invasion, The Beatles and so forth.”

Their show features songsmade famous by The Beach Boys, The Drifters, The Monkees, Dion, Tom Jones, Roy Orbison and even Etta James, as well as The Four Seasons and The Beatles. Wiley, a master of tap dancing, puts those talents into play on an even older oldie, “When You’re Smiling.”

With their well-rehearsed blend of rock, pop, Motown and doo-wop, Under the Streetlamp formed in 2010and soon came to the attention of a theater owner in Merrillville, Ind., who saw their potential and convinced folks he knew at PBS to give them a helping hand. Soon the foursome, backed by a seven-piece band, had made a PBS special and their own self-titled CD and then decided to hit the road.

“We’ve been out on the road for about nine months,” Wiley says. “We did our PBS special in March, so things have been happening pretty fast. We’ve played 50 cities so far, and it’s been great, meeting people and bringing entertainment to them, to where we feel like we’re the hosts at a party.

“Singing along and dancing in the aisles are things we encourage. Three generations at a time seem to make up our crowds, with baby boomers and their kids and grandkids all having equal amounts of fun. People know the words to these songs, which rangefrom Elvis to Patsy Cline, Sam Cooke, The Kinks, The Turtles and even holiday music. We have a brand new Christmas album just out a week ago, Every Day’s a Holiday, which has an original tune and fresh takes on Christmas classics.”

With all the memorable songs to pick from, there’s not a lot of time for the Four Seasons’ many hits, Wiley notes, saying that a three-song medley salutes the Seasons.

Song choices are always under discussion, with people and fans supplying suggestions. Even Wiley’s mother sends him song lists to consider.

“There are a lot of really talented people that believe in the process of what we’re doing,” he says. “In 2013, we’re looking to continue touring and developing new material. It’s a big task at hand to introduce new material.”Under the Streetlamp

Opening act: Gentleman’s

Rule

8 p.m. Friday, Robinson

Center Music Hall, Broad

way and West Markham

Street, Little Rock

Admission: $64

(800) 745-3000, (501) 244-

8800

ticketmaster.com

Weekend, Pages 36 on 12/20/2012

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