“Under the Streetlamp” is a retro rock n’ roll concert experience like no other taking place on November 9th at Brooklyn’s On Stage At Kingsborough. The show will feature cast members from the Tony Award-winning musical “Jersey Boys,” performing tight harmonies and slick dance moves that hark back to an era of sharkskin suits, flashy cars, and martini shakers. Filled with great music and humorous behind-the-scenes tales, the concert brings back the classic hits of Frankie Valli, Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, The Beatles, Roy Orbison, Bobby Darin, and many others, and magically recreates the time when singers would gather under a street lamp to sing their favorite songs.
Under the Streetlamp is comprised of Eric Gutman, David Larsen, Brandon Wardell and Shonn Wiley. Between them, they have appeared on Broadway, in feature films and on television, and in hit musicals including 42nd Street, Assassins, Jersey Boys, Hands on a Hardbody, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Forbidden Broadway, Dracula, Rent, American Idiot, Good Vibrations: The Beach Boys Musical, and The Book of Mormon, among others.
Shonn Wiley is one of the singers who will be performing in the show. Shonn has been in over 50 musicals and has even performed at Radio City Music Hall. He recently discussed his experiences in show business via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you find your love for performing and what’s most fun: singing, acting, or dancing?
Shonn Wiley (SW): I have been a performer all my life. My father, who danced as a youngster, all the way through high school was aiming for a career in performing arts. He however, ended up in Vietnam. Fortunately, he was one of the lucky ones to come home and when he got back put that dream of becoming a performer on the shelf and started a family. When I was a kid, I was introduced to the world of the 40’s and 50’s Movie Musical and I loved it so much. It is said that I would try and do what Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire were doing on screen, so my parents decided to put me in dancing lessons. I took to it like a fish to water. At eleven, I convinced my mother to take me to a local community theatre audition and as I finished me dance routine, the Artistic Director asked me “where did you learn to do that?” I said, “My dad taught me.” They asked if he could come audition. And he did, and that started an amazing ten years of us performing and choreographing show together. It was a full-on family affair; my sister performed too. It’s hard to say what my favorite is. I love them all so much. Singing and dancing were the first so I’d have to say doing them both together makes me very happy.
MM: How did you get involved with “Under the Streetlamp”?
SW: Streetlamp started as a side project while I was in the Chicago company of Tony-winning musical, “Jersey Boys.” We loved singing the music of Frankie Valli and the Four Season’s and thought if we learned other music from that same era, it might offer us opportunity outside of the show to keep singing and making people happy. So, we put together a set and would play Italian festivals and headline charity events, having accumulated a shred of “Celebrity” in “Chicagoland.” When the show closed, we made a commitment to keep singing together. It was art imitating life. We played a band on stage and now we had become a band. About a year after the show closed, we met a producer who thought our show might be something PBS would be interested in, and we filmed a little promo. WTTW in Chicago loved it and offered to be our presenting station if we filmed our live concert. After our successful debut in the spring of 2012, we knew we had caught lighting in a bottle and have been performing in support of our three PBS Specials ever since.
MM: Which songs do you love to perform most?
SW: That’s a hard one. I think it’s safe to say that we love performing all the songs in our show because we are choosing our material. If we don’t like something or feel it isn’t working, we are able to swap it out or try something different. Over the years we’ve built up a pretty big catalogue and since this is music that defined a generation and the songs are classics and favorites to everyone, we get a lot of energy from the crowd; people singing along and moving and grooving in their seats. It really makes our job so easy, we feed of the energy of the crowd for sure.
MM: What are the biggest challenges in preparing for this tour?
SW: The biggest challenges are preparing yourself and your family for being away. Down time is so important and family time is the most important. I think being away from our families is the biggest challenge and how you navigate that take a lot of patience and care.
MM: What do you most enjoy about doo-wop and what other musical styles appeal to you?
SW: Doo-Wop was created mostly with voices and few instruments; everyone has a role to play. Like with all music and theatre it requires a group people to work together for a common goal. That is the thing I enjoy most. The songs are so timeless too. Everyone, young and old appreciates it. Younger people are learning it from their parents who got it from their parents. You even hear it in newer contemporary music being sampled. Personally, I love all kinds of music: singer-songwriters, Hip-Hop, Top 40, Country, Classical and Jazz. A few of my favorite artists include Brandi Carlile, Lake Street Dive, Childish Gambino, Jon Batiste.
MM: What is your dream role, and what additional projects are on the horizon for you?
SW: Streetlamp is currently working on new music for a big upcoming project. We are in the beginning stages but are really excited for the coming year. We continue to tour, and keep the music alive. As for dream roles, I have so many that I hope one day to get to play.
MM: Is there anything else that you want audiences to know about the upcoming show in Brooklyn, NY?
SW: If you’re looking for an opportunity to let loose and enjoy some great music, leave your troubles at the door and be thoroughly entertained for 90-120 minutes, then you do NOT want to miss us at Brooklyn’s On Stage At Kingsborough. There are limited tickets left! For more information about us, you can list our website: Underthestreetlamp.com. Check us out on social media too!
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November 9, 2019
Under the Streetlamp