'Doo Wop Project' comes to Red Wing
If you go...
What: "The Doo Wop Project"
When: 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. April 7
Where: Sheldon Theatre
How much: $18-$35
More info: www.sheldontheatre.org or 651-388-8700
Five singers who starred on Broadway in hits including "Jersey Boys" and "Motown: The Musical" are bringing their classic sound to the Sheldon Theatre.
They'll present "The Doo Wop Project" at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. April 7.
The show starts at the beginnings of Doo Wop, which started out as five guys singing tight harmonies on a street corner and evolved into one of the most popular sounds on the hit parade.
"'The Doo Wop Project' takes audiences on a journey" through the decades, Sheldon officials said, from songs by groups including the Crests, Belmonts and Flamingos to the rock 'n' roll and Motown sounds of Smokey Robinson, the Temptations and the Four Seasons.
But that's not all. The project goes another step forward musically into songs by Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse and Jason Mraz.
"You get a nice spectrum of music from the origins to contemporary songs that have been 'doo-wopified,'" said project member Dwayne Cooper, admitting, "That's a word I came up with."
Cooper, the group's bass, is typical of the five singers in that he performed on Broadway in "Motown" and "Hairspray," was in national tours of "Smokey Joe's Cafe" and "Showboat," and has appeared in several TV series.
In a phone interview while waiting for a flight to another appearance last week, Cooper said the Sheldon concert will be their first Minnesota performance, although the group has been traveling widely for the past five years and currently is booked through 2018.
The other singers are Dominic Scaglione Jr., most recently seen in the starring role of Frankie Valli in "Jersey Boys" on Broadway; tenor Russell Fischer, who played Joe Pesci in that show; Charl Brown, who was nominated for a Tony Award for his portrayal of Smokey Robinson in "Motown;" and Matthew Scott, another Broadway alumnus.
Their music director is Sonny Paladino, who also has worked with such luminaries as Alicia Keys and Sting.
Cooper is not surprised by the continuing popularity of a sound that has been around for decades.
"It's great music," he said, describing the songs and the harmonies as timeless messages of love and coming together.
The group's self-produced debut album, "The Doo Wop Project," includes such hits as "Little Bitty Pretty One" by Thurston Harris; "Morse Code of Love" by the Capris; and "I Wonder Why" by Dion and the Belmonts.
Five musicians join the five singers on stage. Performances include both traditional a cappella renditions, Cooper said, in addition to songs like "That's My Desire" that start out with voices alone, but build as the band joins in.
"We find that not only doo wop but also contemporary songs we give the doo wop twist appeal to younger generations. It gives them a new vocabulary for doo wop music."
Among songs they have reimagined — "doo-wopified" — are "Valerie" by Winehouse, "The Way You Make Me Feel" by Jackson and "I'm Yours" by Mraz.
The concert will have some playful moments, too. Cooper, who gets a kick out of being described as "a modern-day Sammy Davis Jr. meets Barry White," gets his chance to interact with the audience in "Speedo."
"We make sure we're having fun on stage," he said. "It's a party. We love what we do."
That's true of venues of all sizes. They like intimate spaces like the Sheldon because they "feel more connected to the crowd," Cooper said, but they also look forward to an upcoming concert with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
Reviewers have praised the show for "unparalleled authenticity of sound and vocal excellence."
Tickets to "The Doo Wop Project" are $18 to $35. Visit the box office, call 651-388-8700 or go online to www.sheldontheatre.org.