During the hit Broadway musical Jersey Boys’ remarkable 2 1/2-year run in Chicago, Michael Ingersoll took the stage eight times a week, portraying Nick Massi of the Four Seasons more than 1,000 times for roughly 1.3 million fans.
Then he spent Sundays and Mondays — his days off — making a name for himself by performing solo shows at a variety of local venues. Soon his fellow cast members began joining him for these gigs, and, even though they were prohibited from covering any material from Jersey Boys during these shows, it didn’t take them long to realize they might have something special on their hands. Something they could call their own.
Something called Under the Streetlamp.
“The guys and I, we didn’t want to stop singing together, and we wanted to do something that was ours,” said Ingersoll. “We wanted to have something that we owned, that we created, and that we could grow so that we could garner a following that was all our own. So people absolutely come to see this show because they’re familiar with us through Jersey Boys, but now we’re actually developing a following for Under the Streetlamp, which is what we always wanted.”
Indeed, now that Jersey Boys has finished its Chicago run, Ingersoll and his friends have another sellout show on their hands. Unlike Jersey Boys, which tells the now-familiar story of the Four Seasons, Under the Streetlamp offers the opportunity to get to know the Jersey Boys stars as they perform a wider variety of music — doo wop, rock and rock, Rat Pack standards, etc. — and share stories of the lives they live in show business.
These days, those lives are widespread. “The effort alone that it takes for us to do this — I live in L.A., they live in New York, our band lives in Chicago, nobody lives anywhere near each other,” Ingersoll said. “So we have to make a significant effort to even be in the same room.”
However, distance hasn’t damaged their chemistry. “If it were not a show where everybody could tell that we’re up there and having a really good time together and giving every last bit of ourselves to make sure that the music is the highest quality it can be, and that the stories we tell — and there are a lot of them — are genuine and truthful and funny or touching, then we wouldn’t have the record we do,” Ingersoll said.
So far, that record’s golden — nearly every show has been a sellout.
“What that means is people are coming back and people are having a great time, and we are just grateful from top to bottom to have the opportunity,” Ingersoll said. “We’re grateful that people still care.”
Tickets for their upcoming performances at the Elgin Community College Arts Center went on sale this summer, and sold so fast that additional dates were added, and current ticket availability for the four shows is either very limited or nonexistent.
“We keep giving people a reason to come back,” said Ingersoll, noting that the ECC shows will feature their first performance of tunes by the Beatles, and backing by a 100-piece symphony orchestra.
Proceeds from these shows will benefit the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra, as a pillar of Ingersoll’s philosophy is that their performances of Under the Streetlamp must give something back to the community that’s provided them so much support.
“I just don’t know anybody else out there that’s doing what we’re doing,” Ingersoll said. “I don’t know anybody else out there’s that’s covering the breadth of the material that we are, that’s making the impact in the community that we are, and with no financial kick back whatsoever, and is making sure that the community has access to that level of entertainment on an affordable ticket.
“I guarantee you that on Nov. 12, 13, and 14, there’s going to be no better ticket for your money that the show you’re going to see in Elgin,” Ingersoll added. “There’s not. We give everything. We leave everything out there. Occasionally, it’s not like you please everybody, but we sure as hell try.”