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The Journal Gazette

  • Courtesy Under the Streetlamp will perform Friday at Embassy Theatre.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017 9:45 am

Spotlight: Shonn Wiley, Under the Streetlamp

COREY MCMAKEN | The Journal Gazette

If you go

What: Under the Streetlamp

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Embassy Theatre, 125 W. Jefferson Blvd.

Admission: $29 to $56; 1-800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com

Vocal group Under the Streetlamp will perform Friday at Embassy Theatre.

Streetlamp, which is comprised of four former cast members from Broadway's "Jersey Boys," performs classic Doo-Wop, Motown and rock 'n' roll songs.

Vocalist Shonn Wiley answered some questions via email. Responses have been edited.

Q. I read in your profile about the love you have for the classic movie musicals and the people like Gene Kelley and Sammy Davis Jr. who starred in them. Do we really have anything or anyone like that in 2017?

A. Yes, those legends were what I grew up idolizing. My father and I would watch them in concert, or in the movies and I would study them, trying to pick up on their nuance. We would then find a space to work on routines that incorporated things they did in the movies. My father was and continues to be a huge inspiration as well. As for now, times are different. Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake are good examples of the kinds of performers that are taking music and performance to the next level. They are incorporating a lot of retro idea into their music. You can tell who their influences are.

Tap dancing is an art form that most people think is dying. On the contrary, it's thriving like never before. With shows like "So You Think You Can Dance," audiences are being exposed to all dance mediums. It's opened the door for the emergence of some killer tap dancers. Aritsits who are helping keep the art of tap dancing alive and thriving. People like Melinda Sullivan, and Sarah Riech, and Jared Grimes are doing some special things!

Q. Is there a song or section of the show that gets a huge reaction everywhere you go?

A. We have a new Beach Boys medley that we put together for PBS, "Rockin Round The Clock," and it constantly gets a rousing ovation. In part due to the selections we chose, but I have to think in executions as well. We've done our best to recreate the sound The Beach Boys. Audiences seem to approve.

Q. The tour must consume most of your time, but do you ever try to explore the cities you are traveling through? What type of activity or attraction do you look for when you have a few hours free?

A. That is definitely part of the fun of coming to a new city. Submerging ourselves in the local food scene and getting a feel for what the people living there like. We've all mastered the app Yelp! Taking in the things that make the city special are tops on our list. Whether museums like Stax Records in Memphis, The Louisville Slugger factory, Yosemite National Forest on a travel day, and Frechmen Street in NOLA are examples of some my favorites. The best case scenario is to arrive the day before the gig. That gives you a decent amount of time to take in the sights.

Q. If you had a bumper sticker that said "Honk if you love (blank)," what is in the blank that has nothing to do with music or the stage?

A. "Honk if you love the Oldies." We love the oldies!!

Q. Is there anything you are working on outside "Under the Streetlamp”?

A. Currently I am working on a handful (of) projects outside Streetlamp. Two that are in the early stages of planning that I'm really excited about. Two that I've been developing for the last few years. I continue to sing and dance outside of performing the show. Keeping my skills sharp. Learning how to play the piano too. As for outside my work, I love to garden and cook. I try and play a little golf. My wife and (I) spend a good deal of time outside when I'm not on the road. We are huge nature enthusiasts, so we are looking forward to two hikes this summer. One is Buckskin Gulch in southern Utah and the other is a return to Havasupai Falls, deep at the base of the Grand Canyon.

For more on Under the Streetlamp and to hear some of the group's music, to go UnderTheStreetlamp.com.

cmcmaken@jg.net