April 19, 2006

John Lloyd Young–From Usher to Broadway Headliner

April 19th, 2006

Gary Wien’s interview on Upstagemagazine.com with John Lloyd Young provides some interesting insight into everything from Young’s gig as an usher handing out programs at a Broadway theatre a year ago to being one of the hottest new stars on the Great White Way in this season’s hottest show, Jersey Boys.

Reflecting on his days as an usher, and his success in his Broadway debut, Young states,

“When you’re ushering you couldn’t be any farther from being the star of a Broadway show. It’s almost like rubbing salt into a wound. If what you want to do is be up there on the stage, you couldn’t be any farther. As an actor, you’re very acutely aware of the irony. So one day, we were doing a benefit at another Broadway theatre on one of their dark nights, the head usher came up to me and said ‘you were an usher right?’ and I said yes. He said, ‘you’re our hero!’”

Wien notes that role of Frankie Valli is probably one of the most demanding roles Young will ever play on stage. He does eight shows a week with each show featuring about 27 songs. Add in the fact that his character is rarely off stage and you can see why he compares this role to that of a professional athlete. Young warms up for forty minutes before the show and cools his voice for 20 minutes after the show, in addition to eliminating caffeine and alcohol from his diet.

The play tells the story of The Four Seasons, from the band’s early days of struggle, to their rise to the top of the music world, and their eventual fall. Even though it contains so many songs, the play is more of a drama with music than a pure musical. This is why an actor like Young, who has been in several dramatic works, can do so well with the role.

While doing research for his role, Young read articles on the band and played the Seasons’ records non-stop for months before the first rehearsal. A key move was talking with Frankie Valli’s good friend and bandmate Bob Gaudio instead of Mr. Valli himself. Young states,

“I figured if I talked with Frankie Valli’s best friend and lifelong business partner I would get more of an objective view of who Frankie Valli is than if I talked to Frankie Valli himself. Often times, our friends will describe us with far more candor than we’ll describe ourselves. I think we always have an agenda to protect our own image.”

What’s next for John Lloyd Young? Will he be playing Frankie Valli, this time next year? Only time will tell–He has six months left on his contract and will have to make a decision then, but he knows that there will be a time to move on. Young explains,

“I wouldn’t like to do it forever!…I am an actor and my life blood is playing characters and my greatest desire is to play new characters. So there will come a point when I really want to play a new character, but for the time being I’m really happy where I am.”

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