The Saratoga Sun -

Under the Streetlamp at the PVCC

Popular retro band to perform in 'Valley Strong' charity benefit

 

Photo from the Under the Streetlamp website

Under the Streetlamp, from left, Micahael Ingersoll, Brandon Wardell, Christopher Kale Jones and Shonn Wiley get low and croon during one of their energetic performances at the Admiral Theater in Bermerton, Wash.

From Broadway stages in New York, to the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles to the Wilbur Theatre in Boston to ... the Platte Valley Community Center (PVCC) in Saratoga. On July 12, the four-member retro band "Under the Streetlamp" will be bringing the sounds of an earlier era in America right here to the Good Times Valley.

Brush Creek Ranch will be underwriting the costs of the concert as part for their annual "Valley Strong" benefit, and all proceeds from the show will go towards area charities. With over 24 charities to choose from, ticket-buyers can specify which non-profit their donation will go toward at the time of purchase. General Admission tickets cost $50 and can be purchased in-person at the PVCC or by phone at 326-7822.

According to band member Shonn Wiley, charitable ventures were what brought the cast of Under the Streetlamp together. Along with Wiley, band members Michael Ingersoll and Micheal Cunnio first performed together in the musical smash-hit "Jersey Boys." The musical recounts the rise to prominence and eventual dissolution of sixties-era super-band, the Four Seasons. After spending several years touring with that show, the three along with fellow Jersey Boys alum Christopher Kale Jones began doing some side shows for Chicago-area charities such as the Boys and Girls Club, City Fire and Rescue and the Italian American Hall of Fame.

By 2010, these occasional charity performances had snowballed into Under the Streetlamp. A national tour, and two PBS specials in 2012 and 2014-with a third on the way this summer­-have followed. The group is currently working on a project called Harmonies for Healing, which "utilizes music as a basis for healing two (Indiana) cities," Wiley said. It will premiere spring of 2017

Though Cunnio has since left to pursue independent projects, Ingersoll, Jones and Wiley continue Under the Streetlamp's story with Brandon Wardell, who joined the group in July of 2015. Wardell has an impressive list of Broadway credits to his name, including a Tony award, four Grammy nominations and roles in Broadway productions of RENT and Catch me if You Can.

Wiley is Under the Streetlamp's choreographer, and when asked what draws him to the ambiance of the fifties to seventies says, "We take the job of being stewards of this music very seriously." Wiley grew up in Southeast Michigan, where he performed in a local theatre and shared an early love of dance with his father. "We'd watch old musicals and try to figure out what they were doing," he said.

Wiley said his mother and father frequently travel to his shows, and that his dad was in the front row about 10 feet away during his 2000 broadway debut in the Audition. "I do a little bit of a tribute to him each night in our show," he continued, saying he was lucky to be able to share moments like that with his dad.

Prior to making it on the Chicago acting scene with such prestigious companies as the Steppenwolf Theatre and the Chicago Shakespeare Company, Jones was a choir boy from Hawaii. He calls himself a big standup comedy fan, which is a good match for Under the Streetlamp's playful stage presence, which includes many jokes sprinkled in between songs.

Along with an enviable resume of movies and theatrical experience, including roles in Walk the Line and Beauty and the Beast, Ingersoll has a Second Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo. He cites his grandfather, who was both a jazz musician and a welder for General Motors, as one of his biggest influences.

Beside the four singers, Under the Streetlamp tours with the group's manager Charlie Blum and seven musicians including a three person horn section and a four person rhythm group making for a full dozen in the entourage. While each individual on the team brings their own strengths to the performances, the band's website says "it is their synergy and charisma as a group that has drawn an extremely devoted nationwide following."

Under the Streetlamp, Wiley says, does its best to stay "fresh and new, but never stray too far from the original (hits)." Wiley describes the sound the group aims for as "Dick Clark's American Bandstand meets the Rat Pack," and is audibly excited about riffing on hits from the American Radio Songbook.

"Come join along in our madness," he invites those who pine for suave takes on classic hits from Doo-Wop, Motown and Rock 'n' Roll. Audiences won't be disappointed, Wiley promises–and neither will area charities.

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