July 16, 2006

John Lloyd Young Reflects on Current Success & New Projects

July 16th, 2006

Taylor Barnes from the Brown Daily Herald has a very interesting interview with 1998 Brown grad John Lloyd Young. Despite starring as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys, the critically acclaimed Broadway show for which he garnered the 2006 Tony Award for Best Lead Actor in a Musical, John Lloyd Young ’98 still feels “like I’m a struggling actor.”

Jersey Boys is a biography of the Four Seasons, a 1960s rock band. The production won the 2006 Tony Award for Best Musical as well. Regarding playing Four Seasons’ lead singer, Frankie Valli, Young states,

“I can relate to in a very acute way … the element of Frankie Valli’s story where he’s struggling to get his talent out into the world. “

Valli goes from anonymity in blue-collar New Jersey to superstardom. Young himself was unknown on Broadway prior to the success of Jersey Boys and was working as an usher only a year before the show’s opening in November 2005.

Despite the slew of critical acclaim he has received, Young remains in tune with reality, adding he has been able to learn from Frankie Valli’s story. About Valli, Young notes,

“Even at the pinnacle of his career, (Valli was) still only as big as his last hit.”

After graduating from Brown, Young was involved in a hodgepodge of productions, playing roles that varied from a Hasidic Jewish teenager in “The Chosen” to a member of the adult ensemble in “A Christmas Carol.” Young’s success with Jersey Boys seemed unlikely at the outset. He initially auditioned for a different role in the musical but was not selected to perform in the original show in California. A year after his initial rejection from Jersey Boys, the musical’s popularity had grown enough to bring it to Broadway. Feeling that he was “right for the role,” Young retrieved his old audition materials, tried out again, and, “six auditions later, booked the part,” he said.

Young also admits being initially biased against the production, lumping it into the trendy genre of “jukebox shows,” which he described as musicals “based on the songbooks of our parents.” These shows often lacked substantive scripts, he said.

Though Jersey Boys was branded as a jukebox show, it has been well-received, and its success and many awards have “legitimized” the show “as a viable member of the Broadway community,” said Young, who is one of the youngest men to receive the Tony for Best Leading Actor in a Musical. The Jersey Boys Original Cast Recording recently topped the Billboard charts.

Young compares the intensity of singing as a rock star eight times per week to an athletic feat. “Singing is a physiological exercise,” he said, explaining that he warms up and cools down his voice after each show.

What about JLY’s future? Though he has fielded many questions about his future plans, Young has maintained that he is interested in any project, in any medium, that would be artistically intriguing. He said he is unique as an actor, because, although “I’m interested in great roles, classic roles… I’m more interested in new plays.” He enjoys working actively with a playwright to “breathe life into that character for the first time,” as he is now doing with Jersey Boys.

1 Comment »

  1. Way to go John Lloyd! I’m very proud of you! From being in a hit musical, to winning your first Tony. Your father must be very of you! Good luck in the future!
    With love,
    Jersey Girl

    Comment by Jersey Girl — July 16, 2006 @ 1:42 pm

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