If you were in a 10 mile radius of Strathmore on Saturday, you heard the roof rocking off the building, as the retro group, Under The Streetlamp, jammed their way through the streets of Bethesda. Under The Streetlamp is group comprised of former Jersey Boys actors, Michael Cunio, Michael Ingersoll, Christopher Kale “Dr” Jones, and Shonn Wiley. The quartet of these Jersey Boys sang some of the greatest hits of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Their tight harmonies and rocking band were a treat to listeners at Strathmore.
The evening was a series of highlights as they worked their way through a catalogue of songs that had the audience singing along, dancing in the aisle, and cheering these boys who were young enough to be the offspring of most of the audience. I don’t mean that to be an insult to the very talented performers or the eager audience. When you sing songs of a certain generation, the greatest compliment you can receive is when those who were around to experience the songs come out in droves to listen and relive their youth for a brief night.
During intermission, I had a conversation with an audience member seated near me who remarked that I brought the median age down “by 100 years”. Even though I was not alive during the heyday of this luscious music, I could appreciate the showmanship of these young boys who were enjoying their time on stage. And delighting in watching my fellow audience members having a great time.
Vocally, these boys are true musicians, singing some true greats: “I Wonder Why,” (Dion & The Belmonts), the Richard Rodgers /Lorenz Hart standard, “Blue Moon,” “Sh-Boom,” (The Crew Cuts). Each boy was featured on a solo of excellence: Cunio singing a delightful rendition of Etta James’ “At Last,” “Dr” Jones heartfelt “Since I Fell For You”, Ingersoll on the touching mash-up of “Save The Last Dance” and “Cupid.”
But the standout performance of the evening is Wiley, performing the Johnnie Ray standard “Cry” – complete with a mock strip tease flawlessly executed as if he were a member of Forever Plaid, and his show stopping tap number “When You’re Smiling,” dedicated to the number one dancer he knows, his father, a Marine Vietnam vet who introduced his son to show tunes and the dancing styles of Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, and James Cagney. Wiley is a modern day combination of these three greats of film, while being his own unique performer. As they quibbled with the audience (and each other) Wiley told a story of earlier in the day he was singing to himself in a drug store in Bethesda, when the cashier told him to “don’t quit his day job”. Well, I could not agree more. All four of these boys should not quit their job, because they each own a place on stage in the pantheon of American music.
Under The Streetlamp is backed by an energetic (and never over powering) 7-piece band, and delivers their own virtuoso performance backing up these powerful voices. They may sing the hits of other singer, but they make them their own, a modern day spin on classic American music. If you happen to catch their next show, you may find yourself dancing in the aisle.
Running Time: Two hours and twenty minutes, with one intermission.