May 28, 2007

JBB EXCLUSIVE: Interview With John Lloyd Young–Part Three

May 28th, 2007

John Lloyd Young

In John Lloyd Young’s final interview segment with Jersey Boys Blog, he shares his most memorable on-stage and off-stage surprises and experiences; what advice he’s given to kids who aspire to be actors; what advice he would give to actors that want to play the role of Frankie Valli; and what he has discovered about himself since starring on Broadway.

JBB: Since the Tonys, are there any performances or events that stand out as your most memorable?

JLY: Well, probably one of the most incredible events was flying out to L.A. on CBS’ private jet. The Head of CBS, Les Moonves flew us out to perform at a benefit for the Museum of Television and Radio. We flew out Sunday evening after the show, and flew back Tuesday morning, having breakfast on the plane with Katie Couric, who hosted the event. This is how things have changed since winning the Tonys: As part of my regimen to sing, I get massages twice a week to stay loose or relaxed. So, I’m lying on the table at the Beverley Wilshire at their spa after arriving, and the masseuse asks me if I am here for business or pleasure. I told her business, that we were performing at the benefit. She asks where I was here from, and I told her I was in performing in Jersey Boys on Broadway. She stopped massaging my back and said, ‘I just saw you in New York last week; you were great!” She didn’t know she was massaging the kid who plays Frankie Valli. There you are, entirely across the country on the other coast, somebody’s giving you a massage; somebody saw you in the show and they’re very excited about it. People know about the show; they’re very excited about it! It happens in unexpected ways and unexpected places.

JBB: I’ve heard that you’ve had the opportunity to advise kids who want to be actors. What advice have you given them?

JLY: It’s been interesting for me, personally. Everyone knows I was a struggling actor a few years ago, just like my colleagues. Now, I’ve been invited to talk to students and give them advice; that has been really rewarding.

I also get letters from kids asking for advice. One kid got the lead in a school play and he couldn’t believe it. He told me how hard he fought to get the lead. The kid was eight years old. I detected something in that letter. I told him to be very, very nice to all the other actors; that’s the lead’s responsibility

A girl asked me if I had ever done a play where someone doesn’t come to rehearsals and doesn’t know their lines. I could have given her some snarky remark, but she was only 12, so I told her when I was in school, and someone wouldn’t rehearse as much, I would pretend it was an improv. You can’t always control what other people do in a scene, so roll with it.

This has been really rewarding for me because I had all these questions five, six, ten years ago, and now, I have some pretty reasonable answers.

JBB: Since the beginning of Jersey Boys, you’ve made it a point to always sign autographs and chat with the fans at the stage door. The fans love it and appreciate it. What does the stage door experience mean to you?

JLY: I think it’s important to do. Back a few years ago when I was trying to land a role on Broadway, I used to read the various Broadway message boards and read things such as, ‘So & So is mean at the stage door.’ Actually, to my horror, I heard that one of my friends on Broadway rushes out of the theatre and doesn’t sign autographs.

Actors do not have an obligation to sign autographs, and sure, you can go home. If you’re someone like Julia Roberts, you have to think about your security.

But these fans at the stage door? That’s the reason you still have a job. We have a job here now after a year and a half. Lots of shows shutter after a few months. Regional theatre jobs only last a few months. So, when you’re in one that is still running a year and a half later, you may think that you’re touched by God, and you probably are. Great. But “God” in this scenario, at least at the level of “why are you still here working this great job” is also the dozens of people who are waiting outside the stage door and who are telling their friends to see the show. That’s what’s keeping you running and you need to thank them. They’re why you have a job.

JBB: What about fan letters?

JLY: I wrote a letter to Judy Dench when she was doing Amy’s View. I thought she must have received hundreds of fan letters and she wrote me back. I read where Abraham Lincoln said that a man can tolerate much when he’s flattered.

If someone sends me a letter I will answer it. It may not be right away, but I will answer it. Now that there’s email, you’d be surprised how many people don’t pick up a pen, so I get a manageable amount of letters. I had to shut my email down because I couldn’t handle it anymore.

JBB: There are many aspiring actors out there that would love to play Frankie Valli in upcoming Jersey Boys tours throughout the world. What advice would you give an actor who wants to play Frankie Valli?

JLY: Wow, I’m not going to give advice on how to get Frankie; I’m going to give my opinion on what I think makes Frankie an amazing character.

As someone who originated him on Broadway, what I would be so saddened to see absent from a portrayal of Frankie would be the heart. I think that Frankie is like many Americans, someone who starts with very little, and has a big dream, and the talent to back it up. And, all they want to do is matter, make a difference, make an impact, and matter to people. Every setback is more than just an annoyance; it gets in the way of you connecting with those people and mattering to them. It takes you out of the game.

I would hope that the key to playing Frankie, and the one thing that you achieve as an actor, is fighting for every single minute to matter to the world—and, then secretly as an actor, to your audience.

JBB: What have you discovered about yourself that you didn’t know before you played Frankie Valli?

JLY: I’ve always been an anxious person, probably because I’m Catholic. My life started probably with the biggest tragedy—the death of a parent, so I never expected everything to be rosy. And, I’m a worrier. I would guess that most American men pretend that they’re not. I think it’s more interesting for people to know that other people are vulnerable than for them to think they’re the only ones with vulnerabilities.

Even as a naturally anxious and worrisome person, I have learned that I have quite the balls when I need them, which is maybe something I learned from Bob Gaudio and Frankie Valli, and the guys we are portraying. Actually, my Italian grandfather was a firecracker; maybe I’ve inherited his legacy.

I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to John Lloyd Young for his generosity in taking the time for these wonderfully candid and insightful interviews! JLY and his castmates are not only extraordinarily talented actors and performers, they are truly thoughtful, appreciative, and giving to the fans! Congratulations to John Lloyd on his incredible success in Jersey Boys and to his continued success in his future endeavors!


  1. I just can’t get enough of these interviews. They go so deep into his personal life, it’s amazing. He is an incredible person. This huge success could not have been presented to a more great, deserving guy than John Lloyd!

    Comment by Kameron — May 28, 2007 @ 3:21 pm

  2. Each of the three parts of the interview in sequence has been more heartwarming and inspiring. John has learned from all his life experiences and has shown how these experiences helped him grow personally and professionally. An aspiring actor would do well to read John’s entire interview. It is pervaded with reality and hope. John’s intellectual brilliance reveals itself through his writing, speaking, acting and his everyday interactions with life’s happenings.

    Great, great interview! Thanks, John and Susie.

    Comment by Irene Eizen — May 28, 2007 @ 3:22 pm

  3. Thank you so much for the interview with John. He is such an inspiration to so many people. He definitely deserves all of his success. Now I’m even more excited for when I go to see “Jersey Boys” again. :-)

    Comment by Kristen — May 28, 2007 @ 5:27 pm

  4. What a treat it has been to read this three part interview. John is such an amazing individual as he talks about his success and adjusting to being a Tony award winning actor. I have met him a number of times and each time he has been so nice and personable that I knew from when I saw him in October of 2005, in a preview performance of “Jersey Boys” he would capture all the attention he so rightfully deserves. The amazing part of all this to me is that he is so very brilliant in other aspects of his life. When he writes or gives an interview, it is easy to feel how he is so intelligent and such a wonderful example to everyone.
    Thanks for the great interview.

    Comment by Viv — May 28, 2007 @ 5:31 pm

  5. Wow–so many points, John. The most striking is your advice to the 8-year-old boy about the responsibility of being nice. We’ve all heard the phrase, “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” I can’t think of anyone that exemplifies it more than you do.

    You spoke of fans at the stage door and our telling our friends to see “Jersey Boys.” In all honesty, I’ve seen it seven times in NYC and will see it twice more in LA next week; I probably know the book word for word. My thrill is coming with friends or business colleagues and watching their reactions and enjoyment at seeing you, Daniel, Bobby, and Christian for the first time!

    Lastly, I’ve had a full career and still travel all over the world, but almost nothing can match the feeling of having all of you recognize and greet me warmly by name at the stage door in front of my business associates and friends.

    And Susie, your keeping all of us up-to-date daily with all the Jersey Boys news and activities of our actors, and giving us this forum to comment, is icing on the cake. Many of my friends have called for tickets, even a year in advance, after reading this Blog. Just today, one of my friends who has never seen the play, recalled Christian’s “After School Special” of 20 years ago.

    Thank you, John and Susie, for a wonderful inspiring, and unbelievably candid conversation. I echo every word Irene has stated above.

    Comment by Howard Tucker — May 28, 2007 @ 7:05 pm

  6. For those of us of a certain age who grew up listening to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, seeing Jersey Boys has been a thrill beyond description. To have John and the other actors portray the group with the dedication and talent deserving of the group is so very gratifying. John goes beyond his role and embraces the responsibility that the phenomenal popularity of this musical has borne. I watched a young man perform at the Tony awards last year and he knocked my socks off. Being 3000 miles away I had not kept abreast of the latest happenings on Broadway but always make a point of watching the Tonys. Never have I decided to fly across the country to see someone perform but that’s what I did. Twice. And I’m coming one more time before he leaves. He’s that talented. Thank you, John, for portraying Frankie Valli with the integrity and humanity he deserves. You have the same qualities. Your hard work and strong committment to your craft make you a role model for all in your profession.

    Comment by LindaL — May 28, 2007 @ 7:19 pm

  7. *applauds the segment* I wish I could read more of the brillant JLY! He’s seems so real to me although I don’t even know him. I didn’t know he was Catholic. I had a suspicion but he flat out said in this interview. Yay, a Tony winning actor is Catholic like me! JLY seems like the kind of guy you can meet on the street and start a life-long friendship with. It’s hard to belive there’s still people like that out there. God bless his heart.

    Comment by Lauren — May 28, 2007 @ 7:44 pm

  8. I believe through this interview with John we got to know a different side of him. How he didn’t have a mentor and how he was just like us when he was a kid. Wanting autographs at stage doors…and that is why he is so nice to his fans at the JB stage door. I remember seeing a picture of him when he was younger waiting outside a stage door on his blog.

    He is absolutely right about how he answers his mail. I never seen such a more dedicated actor that truely and genuinely appreciates his fans. I was surprised at first, but now I expect his letters. :)

    Lastly, I know that John will have a long and successful career ahead of him, whether he is in Jersey Boys or not. I feel privledged to know such a wonderful person.

    Comment by A — May 28, 2007 @ 7:48 pm

  9. Being a young fan (16) of the show, I have looked up to John not only as a singer (I am a tenor, as well) and actor, but as an all-around human being. I have seen many shows during my short life, and never before have I heard of anyone who has been so willing to speak with the fans after a tiring performance. Sadly, I have never met John in person, but I will be seeing the Original Broadway Cast again next month, so maybe then I will get a chance to meet him.

    This was a fantastic interview, and I’m certain that the next one will be just as good. Keep up the good work, Susie!

    Comment by David — May 28, 2007 @ 11:03 pm

  10. I have loved reading this interview. JLY is a very wise young man. He is talented, bright and humble. It has been such a treat meeting him. I have seen the show 3x and live in TX. He is so generous with his time, wisdom and advice. I am hooked! My whole family is hooked! Thanks for sharing this with the fans! Gayle

    Comment by Gayle — May 29, 2007 @ 9:51 am

  11. This segment really describes what most go through when giving advice to the “up and comers” or fledgling actors just starting out. My son is an actor in HS and he received valuable advice from John Lloyd Young, Jarrod Spector, Rick Faugno and Christopher Kale Jones in person and via snailmail. All the “Frankies” told him to expect the “unexpected”, keep trying hard and never to give up on acting, if it truly is what you love doing.

    Another valid point is the actors’ security at the stage door. I can see some actors, especially ones that play “villains” getting some “heat” from the audience when they get too caught up in the play. JLY is a genuine nice guy, knows his acting roots, stays “down to earth”, and really cares about his peers and everyone that is lucky to meet him. When I sent him a handwritten letter, I thanked him for his portrayal of Frankie Valli in the Jersey Boys, as well as the rest of the cast because it brought back so many memories. In addition to the letter, I added one of my many donations to the Broadway benefit against AIDS. He was so kind to send a personalized signed headshot to my son, cast signed playbill, and two personal JLY cards thanking us for our support.

    JLY definitely is a class act and cares for his fans!

    Comment by Mike B. Magbaleta — May 29, 2007 @ 2:42 pm

  12. John did it again! This guy has so much talent and he really is a great person. Everything John does he does so well!! He will be around for many years to come! Keep up the great work.

    Comment by THEA — May 29, 2007 @ 6:21 pm

  13. Thanks for the interview, John!

    Comment by Yvette — May 29, 2007 @ 8:25 pm

  14. It’s no surprise that your interview was so intelligent and interesting. I have seen Jersey Boys many times, as you know, and have never lost faith
    in your ability, talent, and growth as a person in the year and a half that I have known you and was
    privileged to spend some quality time with you. Thanks for the memories John! Hope to see you soon.

    Just returned from our awesome Cruise to Italy, Monte Carlo, Greece and Turkey. It was a little intimidating because I felt so at home and comfortable
    on the high seas. My instincts were to stay in Venice forever. We spent the last night in St.
    Marks Square having dinner in an outdoor Cafe, with new friends we met on the Cruise, laughing and listening to the music and watching the Gondolas on the water with their strolling musicians. I felt we belonged there and felt such peace of mind. I thought too how you and Alison would love it here as well. Some day I am certain you will travel to these far and magical places and adore it as we do. Next stop Australia, to visit one of our new friend from the Cruise, who lives in Perth. I can hardly wait!

    Stay well and wish you wonderous times and joyous experiences.

    Warm regards,

    Comment by Lois Halpern — May 29, 2007 @ 10:12 pm

  15. John, you talk about “mattering”–to people, to the world, to the audience. As of right now, John Lloyd Young and Susie Skarl, you have elicited a mind-boggling 38 comments from the readers of your great three-part interview, no doubt showing that you guys REALLY matter to us. Also, however, the comments re the fans at the stage door and the constant timely and dedicated updating of the Blog show that we REALLY matter very much to you guys too.

    Comment by Howard Tucker — May 31, 2007 @ 5:41 am

  16. As always, Howard, your comments are right on! Have fun in LA! IE

    Comment by irene eizen — May 31, 2007 @ 4:29 pm

  17. Mike, how did your son get in touch with Jarrod Spector? He played Frankie beautifully in SF for the one time I’ve seen the show(so far). I’ve been searching for a mailing address and can’t find one. Can you send it to me? [email protected]

    Comment by Lauren — June 7, 2007 @ 4:55 pm

  18. We spoke to Jarrod right after the 7:30 Mother’s Day performance at the Curran stage door. My son is the actor in the family, having done two plays in Jr. High and HS, so naturally his questions were basically asking advice from someone that’s been experienced in all forms of entertainment. He watched Jarrod during the 1st tour in April, but did not know that you could meet the cast at the stage door afterwards.

    To tell you the truth, in terms of looks, Jarrod is probably closest to Frankie Valli. John Michael Dias, who is Jarrod’s alternate during matinees, is a close second, but all actors playing Frankie Valli do him justice in Jersey Boys. All talented and exceptional actors!

    I’ll be sending you the address today. I heard from another correspondent here that Jarrod is very accommodating to all his fans!

    Comment by Mike B. Magbaleta — June 7, 2007 @ 6:19 pm

  19. Thanks again Mike! I really appreciate the help. I feel sorta foolish not even bothering to look for a stage door in SF. lol.

    I really love JLY’s comment on signing autographs. It makes him seem sincerely grateful for his fans. It’s really very sweet.

    Comment by Lauren — June 8, 2007 @ 10:46 am

  20. I remember the first time I saw Jersey Boys in NYC, and I thought it wuold be enjoyable. What I didn’t expect was to be totally transfixed by the performance and the actors. I got to meet all the cast members at the stage door, and they were so friendly and kind to everyone. I even walk to the subway with JLY!

    I went back for the Actor’s Equity Fund performance, and again, spoke to John Lloyd Young, and Christian Hoff. What an experience. I hope they know how much their performances mean to me and many others. I am such a huge fan of theirs, and love to listen to the cast album on my Ipod. My only wish is to go back and see them perform one more time. I am definitely hooked!

    Thanks for such a great interview.

    Comment by Elissa — June 9, 2007 @ 5:01 pm

  21. I have never seen the show and am traveling to NYC to see it at the end of June. I am really hoping that John Lloyd Young will be performing because I hear he is excellent. I’ll be so dissapointed if he’s not there. Anyway, the interview was great and can’t wait to see the show!

    Comment by Jenna — June 10, 2007 @ 3:59 pm

  22. Wow! I LOVED reading these interviews with JLY! Thank you so much!

    I agree with the other posts–he is so insightful, intelligent, and articulate. He’s a really deep thinker and is such a great example to others on being not only a talented actor, but an outstanding person.

    I love the fact that he is so down-to-earth and nice to his fans, giving us his precious time at the stage door for autographs and photos as well as answering our written letters to him. I am constantly blown away every time he responds back to me…writing letters is a dying art so I think that’s an extra special gift that JLY has.

    I wish him the best in his career and know that he will succeed because he possesses great integrity and has a good head on his shoulders. For someone who was never mentored, he has done an excellent job of guiding his career to where it is today. His hard work and perserverance have paid off.

    I will always be behind him in whatever he does and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to meet him and get to know him through his letters.

    It has been such a privilege to see JB in NYC twice and I’ll be seeing the SF show next month!

    Comment by Dina — June 10, 2007 @ 4:03 pm

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