Ready to Return: Under the Streetlamp's national tour brings foursome back to their Star Plaza start

2012-07-06T00:00:00Z 2013-05-10T00:45:11Z Ready to Return: Under the Streetlamp's national tour brings foursome back to their Star Plaza startBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

Even though it's 100 degrees and the calendar reads July, singer Christopher Kale Jones, and his three other performance partners in the Under the Streetlamp group, are already thinking about Christmas tunes.

On July 14, Under the Streetlamp, one of America's newest vocal groups starring recent leading cast members of Chicago's Broadway run of "Jersey Boys," returns to the Star Plaza Theatre stage for the next city date of their national tour.

Then, next month, the crooners, who "officially" launched their group on Star Plaza's stage last August for a concert and PBS TV special taping, start work on their first Christmas album, which will be captured in studio in September.

"It's kinda funny to be talking and thinking about Christmas songs in the middle of summer, but it's where we're at right now, and it's a great place," Jones said during an interview this week.

"We want it to be just the right mix of favorites, but also fresh. For example, at first, we wanted to do a version of The Drifters' 'White Christmas.' But then we discovered Michael Buble just did it."

But it's not all about being in "the holiday mode" for these four.

Jones, as well as the group's other members Michael Ingersoll, Michael Cunio and Shonn Wiley, are equally excited about returning to Merrillville and the Star Plaza Theatre. It's the performance landscape where they developed and fine-tuned their act under the guidance of Charlie Blum, Star Plaza Theatre CEO and talent buyer, who now also wears the hat of the group's manager.

"This will be a homecoming for us," Wiley said.

"We have so many friends and fans in Merrillville and it's where we've spent the most time preparing for this national tour."

And this entertaining foursome never disappoints.

They just launched their new national tour with dates in Los Angeles and Cleveland prior to performing two sold-out shows at Park West in Chicago.

Their concert, described as "doo-wop ditties, Motown melodies and cool Rat Pack," also includes a section that pays tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, as well as tunes from Van Morrison, The Beatles and Sam Cooke.

During their Chicago concert at Park West in May, their song list included "At Last," "Look Like an Angel," "Since I Fell for You," "I Get Around" and "Little Surfer Girl," as well as "Happy Together" by The Turtles and "Twist and Shout" by the Fab Four.

Jones had the women in the audience on their feet, while he channeled the energy and charm of singer Tom Jones with a rendition of "She's a Lady," while Ingersoll KEPT them on their feet with his "growl" while doing "Pretty Woman."

Wiley, who is responsible for the group's smooth and comfortable choreography, provides a great tribute to the late, great Johnnie Ray, and Cunio embraces a balance between rocker and Rat Packer.

While Under the Streetlamp is produced by Star Productions, it is a joint venture also produced by Ingersoll, who starred as Nick Massi of the Four Seasons in "Jersey Boys" for three years.

"Were we a little nervous about going out on the road with a national tour that took us from Cleveland and Los Angeles to New York and Tampa? Of course," Ingersoll said.

"Just because we're so at home in the Midwest, doesn't mean regional tastes are the same all around the country. But we were able to strike a connection with each one of our audiences and that really says something about our music and stage time."

Ingersoll credits the four's natural comfort together in front of audiences as one of the reasons for success.

Cunio said they treat every concert "like we're hosting a party and everyone is invited."

"We are so fortunate to have had the opportunity to do our PBS television special, because it introduced us to so many people who might not have happened to experience us otherwise," Cunio said.

"And when we perform live before an audience, it's a chance for everyone to have a blast, and that includes us up on stage."

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