John Lloyd Young at Café Carlyle

John Lloyd Young at Café Carlyle. Photo by David Andrako
John Lloyd Young at Café Carlyle. Photo by David Andrako

NEW YORK – John Lloyd Young at Café Carlyle

John Lloyd Young likes to sing, and lucky for us, he will be doing that at Café Carlyle through May 18. Almost as much as singing, this guy likes to chat. One compliments the other well. It is not an easy balance to achieve – and if you are a connoisseur of cabaret you know of which I speak. Many a performer gets caught in one camp and neglects the other. Young has this balance handled.

Not only does Young like to chat, but he also likes to give you fun facts, like how Richard Rogers and his wife were the first tenants in the Carlyle in the 1930s. He will also tell you that the famous mural in the cafe is not a fresco – it is painted on canvas. He clearly loves the Café and all the people who work there, whom he thanks several times throughout the evening. As he does, his musical director, Steve Marzullo, single-handedly keeps up with Young without any effort.

Naturally, Young refers to “Jersey Boys” for which he won a Tony in 2006 for his role as Frankie Valli – and not for nothin’, but he tells us that Valli JUST got a star on the Walk in Hollywood – 90 years on the planet and still kicking butt.

While most of the evening is devoted to “Jersey Boys” trivia, Young also pays homage to the many golden era Doo-Wop music – as he recently said in a TV interview, he wanted to give the “Sinatra treatment to doo-wop.” Beginning with the Platters “My Prayer” by (Georges BoulangerCarlos Gómez Barrera & Jimmy Kennedy).

We take more than one stroll through his most recent album devoted to Doo-Wop—the Five Satins’ “In the Still of the Night” (Fred Paris). Young has a way of transporting those of us who remember these songs back a few decades.

More about Jersey boys – how did he do research on Valli before there was YouTube? Libraries and Museum of Inspiration television, of course. We take a detour into Roy Orbison, who was Valli’s inspiration and influenced Young as well. This is followed by a new discovery by Orbison that was recorded but never released. “Say No More” is a heartbreaking salute to the broken hearts that all of us have felt at one time or another.

Although this show is designed for those of us who have a soft spot in our hearts from having treaded water in the mote of Doo-wop, Young is often at his best when he drops the “Jersey Boys” focus and wanders off on his own, as he does with “Since I Fell for You” (Buddy Johnson). Young’s interpretation is laser-focused and simple. A brilliant revelation.


John Lloyd Young on stage at Café Carlyle. Photo by David Andrako

John Lloyd Young on stage at Café Carlyle. Photo by David Andrako

More than once, Young plugs his new album “My Turn” – including a turn with the extravagant “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” (Mel Carter), which he delivers to the audience while he walks among us. “Can’t Take My Eyes off of You” (Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio) pulls us into the exact moment where we know precisely where and when to clap and then join in on the chorus.

If you are looking for a night out walking down memory lane – this is the place for you. You will love Young’s reminiscences, fun facts, and his experiences traveling the world as an ambassador of Doo-Wop. You will adore his singing. And if you are interested in Jersey Boys Broadway and movie trivia (Young tells us that the movie is on his mind because it has just started streaming on HBO Max, but that feels like a bit of a stretch), you will get your fill.

You will also spend a delightful evening with a guy who loves his work, the gifts he has to give, and the gifts he has received.

John Lloyd Young at Café Carlyle through May 18.

Readers may also enjoy our reviews of Meg Okura at the Met MuseumLaura Benanti at the Minetta Lane TheaterBrazilian Jazz at Le Bab Ilo in ParisMarilyn Maye birthday celebration at 54 BelowThe American Relics at Chelsea Table + StageGabrielle Stravelli at Chelsea Table + StageTribute to Chita RiveraThere’s A Little Starch Left at Don’t Tell MamaThe Sweet Spot, and The Days of Wine and Roses.

John Lloyd Young at Café Carlyle


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