MERRILLVILLE | Just a year after their first PBS taped concert special proved popular with national audiences and generous pledge callers, the musical group Under the Streetlamp was back at Star Plaza Theatre preparing to tape a second PBS concert on Saturday.
The crooning foursome — Michael Cunio, Michael Ingersoll, Christopher Kale Jones and Shonn Wiley — returned to Northwest Indiana late last month for three weeks of rehearsals at Star Plaza Theatre to prepare for the taping, which features them showcasing songs they've not previously included in their concerts, DVD, CD or last year's national launch tour.
"They've been on the scene for two years now and to have a second PBS TV special so soon is incredible," said Charlie Blum, CEO and talent buyer for Star Plaza Theatre, who also is the group's manager and executive producer of Saturday's TV special.
Blum said it used to be only one in ever 20 PBS TV specials earned the viewership to tab it "a numbers success." It is now "one in 50."
"As performers, they now have their own entertainment success and identity, while fans also fondly associate them with their start as former cast members from the hit stage musical 'Jersey Boys.'"
The quartet performs classic hits from the American radio songbook for a concert of songs described as "Doo-wop ditties, Motown melodies and cool Rat Pack."
"After our first PBS concert was so well received, there's big expectations, and that's a little scary," Cunio said during a break from rehearsals.
"But Star Plaza is where it all started and it's like home for us."
"It's the talent of these four men and their dedication that inspires every concert, tour and project," said Blum, who has been impressed with the group's rehearsals with choreography consultant Caitlin Carter, one of the original stars of Broadway's revival of "Chicago."
"Tickets are moving fast for Saturday's concert, since the lighting and television taping requirements require us to block off some of the seating in the theater. There are also fans coming from as far as California and Hartford, Conn."
Saturday's two-hour concert will later be edited to create the one-hour TV special that will air in March on PBS in time for the spring pledge drive.