MERRILLVILLE | Releasing a DVD while promoting a new CD and launching a national tour — after taping a TV special in the same nine-month span — probably teaches an entertainer a thing or two.
The four members of the young new musical group Under the Streetlamp are proud of their inaugural year of firsts. They also are looking to share some of the wisdom they've gained with students and others interested in balancing the challenges of show business.
At 7 p.m. Thursday, the members of Under the Streetlamp — Michael Cunio, Michael Ingersoll, Christopher Kale Jones and Shonn Wiley — return to Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville to lead a free "master class." The question-and-answer session is open to local schools and the public. Under the Streetlamp taped a concert in August at Star Plaza Theatre for a PBS broadcast.
The quartet consists of recent leading cast members of the Tony Award-winning musical "Jersey Boys," who perform classic hits from the American radio songbook. The four men return to the region this week for final rehearsals before the May 1 kickoff of their national tour in Los Angeles.
"We want to continue to do outreach to schools and the community, while encouraging the young talent we have in Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland," said Charlie Blum, CEO and talent buyer for Star Plaza Theatre, who is also the singing group's manager.
The Thursday event is free and first come, first served. It is part of an ongoing outreach program series by Star Plaza Theatre and the Northwest Indiana Theatre Alliance.
"We realize how important it is to share our gratitude with the communities and audiences who welcome us," said Wiley, who is the choreographer for Under the Streetlamp.
"We typically always invite students from local high schools, along with their parents and anyone interested, to join us for these master classes to share what we've learned along the way so far," he said. "There's a lot of misleading information out there about how to 'make it' in show business that keeps young people afraid that there is no place for them in the world of arts."
The group will return to Chicago for two performances May 12 at Park West, where only a few seats remain for the afternoon show. The tour ends with the quartet returning to Star Plaza for a July 14 concert.
"Thursday's opportunity sponsored by the alliance, brings entertainment icons and the public together, allowing the public to meet, question and gain knowledge from show business insiders," Blum said.
The Northwest Theatre Alliance comprises Star Productions, Towle Theater, Ross Music Theatre, M&M Productions, the Memorial Opera House and Footlight Players. For more information, visit starplazatheatre.com or underthestreetlamp.com.