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Streetlamp set to shine in show at Star Plaza

Under Streetlamp spins out doo-wop classic pop by likes Beatles Four Seasons. Members are Christopher Kale Jones (left) Michael Cunio

Under the Streetlamp spins out doo-wop and classic pop by the likes of the Beatles and Four Seasons. Members are Christopher Kale Jones (left), Michael Cunio, Shonn Wiley and Michael Ingersoll. | Paul Natkin~For Sun-Times Media

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If you go

◆ Under the Streetlamp

◆ Star Plaza Theatre, U.S. 30 and
Interstate 65, Merrillville

◆ 8 p.m. Saturday, July 14

◆ Tickets are $39 and $49; available at the Star Plaza Theatre box office and through Ticketmaster, www.ticketmaster.com or (800) 745-3000

◆ More details at www.starplazatheatre.com

Updated: August 14, 2012 6:08AM



A certain young foursome emits some vintage swank in this digital-tweet age. 

Charlie Blum thinks Under the Streetlamp is reminiscent of the Rat Pack, the legendary cadre of cool featuring Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin.

With its throwback harmonies, Under the Streetlamp has already brought its onstage good times to Public Broadcasting Service stations, notching its own PBS special that is used for pledge drives.

With Blum as its executive producer, the special popped up on Chicago’s WTTW-TV (Channel 11) and Northwest Indiana’s Lakeshore Public Television.

“It began airing March 3 on (PBS) stations throughout the United States,” said Blum, the manager of the vocal group, who also serves as president and chief executive officer of Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville.

The theater’s website says the special “was actually filmed at the Star Plaza Theatre.” It was recorded for airing during Under the Streetlamp’s August 2011 show at the venue.

Boasting lead cast members from the musical “Jersey Boys,” Under the Streetlamp is set for a return engagement at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Star Plaza Theatre.

Retro music with a youthful, energetic twist is on tap from the quartet. The gents in Under the Streetlamp even dance.

“As much as the show is absolutely a concert, we think of it more like we’re hosting a party,” group member Michael Cunio said. “We really encourage the audience to take part in the night, whether it’s getting up and dancing or singing along. It’s a very loose and laid-back fun night.”

Cunio said he and his comrades take the music and the dancing in the act seriously, but they don’t take themselves seriously at all.

That philosophy and approach helps to keep that figurative wall from going up between Under the Streetlamp and its audience.

“It’s really about our friendship and the fact that we can have fun with each other onstage and tell jokes — and we really include the audience in that,” Cunio said. “They become sort of the fifth member of the group, in many ways.

The best compliment we can get at the end of the night is, ‘Oh, I wanna go have a beer with you guys,’ or, ‘That’s like what me and my friends would be doing if we could sing.’ ” 

Joining Cunio onstage Saturday will be Christopher Kale Jones, Shonn Wiley and Michael Ingersoll. Cunio and the rest of the“Streetlamp” guys are in their early 30s.

Ingersoll has put in a lot of time with “Jersey Boys,” logging performances in Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. He starred as Nick Massi of the Four Seasons in the musical.

Some of the Four Seasons’ material is performed by Under the Streetlamp, which is backed up by a seven-person band.

“We refer to the music that we perform as the American radio songbook,” Cunio said. “Basically, it’s a collection of your favorite tunes from the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s.”

The retro stew includes Motown music and pop classics from the Beatles, Drifters and Beach Boys.

Honing his stage skills in the Chicago production of “Jersey Boys,” Cunio has toured across the United States this year with Under the Streetlamp.

Cunio said the artistic camaraderie of his group springs from diverse elements.

“You’ve got four different personalities and four different kinds of singers,” he said.



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