“Not only is Shonn Wiley one of the small handful of true triple threat performers in New York City, but he is one of an even smaller group that can hold an audience in the palm of his hand…”
Originally, from Adrian, MI, Shonn started performing at six, when his father put him in dance classes. Immediately Shonn was hooked. It was at the Historic Croswell Opera House that his passion for performing was born. Upon graduation from high school, Shonn was already a seasoned entertainer, having been in over 50 musicals. He made his Broadway debut in the Tony Award-winning revival of 42ND STREET where he performed at the famed Radio City Music Hall. Shonn later returned to the Broadway stage in DRACULA, The Musical. Other NYC credits include: Junior Dolan in ON YOUR TOES, John Trainor in NO NO, NANETTE, Jack Donahue in MY VAUDEVILLE MAN, Richard Loeb in THRILL ME, understudying and performing title character in CANDIDE at New York City Opera, STAIRWAY TO PARADISE costarring Kristin Chenoweth at City Center Encores!, THE VIEW FROM HERE, and movies TINY DANCER and CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC. Shonn was featured in the Chicago cast of “Jersey Boys” as Bob Gaudio where and performed on the final season of the Oprah Show. As a choreographer, Shonn received a Lucille Lortel Award nomination, as well as a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Choreography for MY VAUDEVILLE MAN. Other choreography projects: Come Dance With Me, Sweeney Todd and Pool Boy at Barrington Stage, The View From Here, Music Man and Forever Plaid. Shonn serves as the choreographer for Streetlamp. He holds a BFA in Drama from Carnegie Mellon University..
As a young person growing up in the midwest, my love for music started with the record player. My father had a collection of old 78’s from his childhood and we would listen to the likes of the Andrew Sisters, Frank Sinatra, Gene Autry, Glenn Miller, and Ben E. King. I would spend hours going from record to record. When I was 6-years-old my parents put me into tap dance lessons and then introduced me to movie musicals. I was immediately mesmerized. My dad is a “song and dance man” and when I was young, while most of the kids in my neighborhood were out playing sports, we would sit in the living room and watch all of the classic MGM movies. We would breakdown the dance routines, trying to decipher what steps Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire were doing. So many hours were spent in the basement or the driveway perfecting our routines. It was special to have passion for the same things. After my father served in Vietnam for three tours, he came back to the states and decided to put that dream of entertaining on the shelf. He started a family and quickly noticed my passion for performing. The first musical he performed in was the first show I was ever in. It had been almost 20 years since he had been in a show.
Probably the performer that I wanted to be most like was Sammy Davis, Jr. He was a true triple threat, and had an incredible command of the stage. I admire his ability to cross over between being contemporary and performing the standards embraced by older audience. The sense of playful ribbing and the jokes and party atmosphere that the Rat Pack captured in their shows in Vegas in the 60’s, is something that we hoped to create in our live Streetlamp show. The notion that while we take the music seriously and handle it with care, we don’t take ourselves seriously one bit!
Favorite Streetlamp Moment:
I’d have to say that it’s meeting our fans at the end of each show. Music is inside us all. That’s why our hearts have beats. Over the years, it defines so many important moments. I like hearing about those memories of our fans. We are definitely in the business of nostalgia and our audiences never shy away from telling us how much fun they’ve had. I love that the men who served our country come up and talk to me about my father. He served three tours in Vietnam, and I talk about my childhood growing up. They really appreciate the shout out and I think it’s wonderful when the audience shows their love for those who served.
Favorite Song to Perform:
There are so many great songs in our show I can’t pick just one. I love singing the song Cry. It was made famous by Johnnie Ray, who at the height of his career, was as big a star as Elvis became. He was known for his dramatic and “over-the-top” performances, falling to his knees and making the ladies go wild. I am a bit of a cut up, and don’t mind going the extra distance when paying tribute. The Beach Boys Medley is the moment I’m most proud of. We weave the songs together in an unconventional way, and the vocal harmonies are so much fun tosing. Lastly, I love to put on my tap shoes and do my signature song and dance to Jump Jive and Wail. The performances of my friends gives me great joy.
Seeing them succeed is something that makes me proud.