He grew up in a small Midwestern town performing at the local community theater, left for New York, landed a part in a Tony-award winning Broadway show and married a Broadway star. He and his wife put together a concert and they’re taking it back to that small Midwestern town for the world première — this weekend.
“Come Dance With Me,” starring Shonn Wiley and Meredith Patterson, runs Oct. 1-3 at Croswell Opera House in Adrian, Mich. Tickets are $36 and can be purchased at www.croswell.org.
“This is something brand spankin’ new,” Wiley said.
Wiley, an Adrian native, performed in the Tony award-winning revival of “42nd Street” on Broadway in 2001. His wife, Meredith Patterson, starred in the production. Both have performed in a variety of high-end shows and concerts of similar caliber.
“Come Dance With Me” consists of about 20 musical numbers from the 1940s and 50s, including Broadway musicals and popular music of the time, said Jere Righter, artistic director at the Croswell. Between numbers, Wiley and Patterson will tell the audience about the music and its influence on America – and also about their own lives and artistic journeys.
“It’s going to be an inside glimpse into Shonn and Meredith and how they are like every other struggling and starving artist that believes in what they’re doing and the value of live theater – and just some fun. It’s toe-tapping music; you want to sing along when you hear it,” Righter said.
This isn’t Wiley’s first time at the Croswell. Righter remembers working with him at his first Croswell show when he was 9 or 10 years old.
The show, “42nd Street,” doesn’t normally have children in the cast, but Wiley made an impression during his audition, Righter said.
“Shonn was such an outstanding dancer that they gave him a featured dance number,” Righter said. “He just had that star quality from the very beginning.”
Wiley said he enjoys coming back to Michigan.
“It’s great. I love coming home,” he said. “The support of the arts in the community of Adrian is comparable to the support of the arts here in New York. I think it’s interesting that in such a small community, you have as much of a respect for art and fine art and music and dance and theater,” Wiley said.
When Wiley was performing in “Jersey Boys” in Chicago, Righter went with a few other people to see the show near the end of its run. All told, about 30 or 40 people from Adrian had made the trip that night, she said. After the show, they waited outside the theater for him.
“He stopped and made a big point of hanging out with the woman who babysat him when he was little,” Righter said. “He’s like the guy next door, but he’s also got that … you see people flock around him.”
Wiley and Patterson’s concert will be “celebration of Hollywood and jazz,” Patterson said.
“There isn’t a story, per se, but it does mirror our life together and in the theater, and it has a little bit of insight as to what we love about … being on stage together,” she said.
The program includes number such as “All That Jazz,” “Fly Me to the Moon” and “Dream a Little Dream of Me.”
“There’s tunes in the show that are probably well-known, that people are probably going to go ‘I know that song!’” Wiley said. “And there are going to be tunes from that era that are wonderful tunes but weren’t made as popular.”
The Croswell hasn’t had the opportunity to première a show in about 15 years, Righter said.
“It’s an opportunity for the Southeast Michigan and Northeast Ohio communities to come check something out that’s never been seen before,” Wiley said. “It’s going to be a really fun evening.”