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Published: Thursday, 6/5/2014 - Updated: 6 months ago

PEACH WEEKENDER

News of Theater: Group brings American Radio Songbook to life

BY SUE BRICKEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Members of Under the Streetlamp are, from left: Shonn Wiley, Michael Ingersoll, Christopher Jones, and Michael Cunio. The group comes to the Stranahan on Tuesday. Members of Under the Streetlamp are, from left: Shonn Wiley, Michael Ingersoll, Christopher Jones, and Michael Cunio. The group comes to the Stranahan on Tuesday.
PAUL NATKIN Enlarge

Singer Shonn Wiley may have been a “Jersey Boy,” but his roots are right here.

Wiley, who grew up in Adrian, is one of the stars of Under the Streetlamp, coming to the Stranahan Theater Tuesday as part of a 50-city national tour. He and singers Michael Ingersoll, Michael Cunio, and Christopher Kale Jones each had appeared in national productions of the hit Broadway musical Jersey Boys, the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, before forming Under the Streetlamp.

They sing the music of what they call the American Radio Songbook, the hits played on the radio in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. Their Toledo show will range from romantic ballads to Frankie Valli hits, all backed by a seven-piece band in a modern interpretation of the sophisticated Rat Pack style. The group Gentleman’s Rule also will appear.

The four formed Under the Streetlamp after seeing “a real hunger for this music, a real passion for hearing it,” Wiley said in a telephone interview. The American Radio Songbook echoes a time when music wasn’t as fragmented as it is today. “[It’s a time] before you had multiple radio stations that play different genres,” Wiley said. In the past, there was one station everybody listened to. “It didn’t matter whether you were a Beatles fan or you liked Elvis, or you were into Johnny Cash or you liked Motown, you all went to that station and you listened to all of the music. You didn’t just know the words to the songs you loved, you knew the words to all the songs.”

When Under the Streetlamp performs, expect to hear music from several genres. Wiley said he is “the song and dance guy, the showman, the guy who kind of crosses between the old school” and the contemporary songbook. Cunio is the soul singer, Wiley said, with the songs of James Brown and Etta James; Ingersoll “has this rockabilly thing going on, he’s doing Elvis, Dion and the Belmonts, and Johnny Cash,” and Jones “has an incredible high tenor voice” and shines in the sounds of Frankie Valli and Little Anthony and the Imperials.

“We don’t take ourselves very seriously, we take the music seriously, and the audience are the guests of honor,” added Wiley, the son of Herb and Beth Wiley of Adrian.

Wiley, 37, who said he is going into his 30th year in show business, grew up performing in this area. He was in a children’s program at the former Westgate Dinner Theater, and appeared in shows at the Croswell and at the Toledo Rep, where he was in Singing in the Rain and Big River in the early 1990s. His resume includes making his Broadway debut in the Tony Award-winning revival of 42nd Street. He appeared in Broadway’s Dracula the Musical, on television’s Guiding Light, and received the Lucille Lortel Award and a Drama Desk nomination for outstanding choreography for My Vaudeville Man. He was featured in the Chicago cast of Jersey Boys as Bob Gaudio.

“Southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio, if you look at this community and what we do and have been doing for the last 30, 40, maybe 50 years, is teaching and raising our young to understand that art and theater and music and dance are really vital tools for the development of the human spirit,” Wiley said.

The Stranahan box office Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and by calling 419-381-8851. Under the Streetlamp, with Gentleman’s Rule, performs at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd. Tickets range from $28.50 to $46, from stranahantheater.org.

‘Iowa’ in Bryan

Leaving Iowa, a family-friendly comedy that celebrates the joys and challenges of the family vacation road trip, will be presented by Williams County Community Theater beginning Friday. The comedy by Tim Clue and Spike Manton centers on the middle-aged Don Browning, who returns to his Iowa hometown for a family get-together, and ends up on the road, roaming Iowa in search of a proper resting place for his father’s ashes. In flashbacks to the 1960s, Don’s journey becomes a road map to the past and memories of childhood summer trips with his family.

The community theater’s production is directed by Sue Buntain, assisted by Mary Beth Snider. The cast includes Denver Henderson as Don; Crystal Bowers as Sis; Zach McAfee as Dad, and Amanda Opdycke as Mom. Playing multiple roles are Bob McAfee, Marcia Bidlack, Jose Vasquez, Jed Ramos, and Kyla Huband.

Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and June 12, 13, and 14, and at 2:30 p.m. June 15 in the Little Theater off the Square, 208 W. Butler St. in Bryan. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at www.mywcct.com or 419-636-6400.

 

Rep summer camps

Children have the starring roles in Rep Ed, the Toledo Repertoire Theatre’s summer camps, beginning June 16 at the Center for Performing Arts on the University of Toledo campus. Budding performers ages 7 to 16 will have the opportunity to learn basic dance, music, and acting skills.

Three weekly musical performance sessions will be offered at $100 for each week: June 16-20, June 23-27, and Aug. 4-8. Sessions run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Registration and emergency contact forms are at toledorep.org under the “Rep Ed” tab. Mail completed registration forms to the Toledo Rep, 16 Tenth Street, Toledo, OH 43604, or fax to 419-725-1930. Emergency contact forms may be filled out and brought to the first class. For more information, call Eileen Eddy or Kathy McGovern at 419-243-9277, ext. 4, or go to toledorep.org.

Send theater items to Sue Brickey at sbrickey@theblade.com.



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