Interviews

John Lloyd Young

Tony/Grammy Winner John Lloyd Young Celebrates the Season 
Friday with Vegas Holiday

By: Ellis Nassour

December 1, 2020: Tony and Grammy Award-winner John Lloyd Young, forever famous to fans of Jersey Boys, will live stream his new 75-minute pay-per-view concert act Vegas Holiday from Mark Shunook’s The Space this Friday, December 4, at 6 P.M. Pacific [9 P.M. Eastern]. This concert will be much more than just songs. 

Tony/Grammy Winner John Lloyd Young Celebrates the Season 
Friday with Vegas Holiday

By: Ellis Nassour

December 1, 2020: Tony and Grammy Award-winner John Lloyd Young, forever famous to fans of Jersey Boys, will live stream his new 75-minute pay-per-view concert act Vegas Holiday from Mark Shunook’s The Space this Friday, December 4, at 6 P.M. Pacific [9 P.M. Eastern]. This concert will be much more than just songs. 

Friday’s virtual VIP after-party will begin at 7:45 PM Pacific [10:45 P.M. Eastern]. It’ll include a talk-back and Q&A with questions submitted by advance ticket buyers. Young promises, lots of surprises that might include song encores. It will also be available OnDemand for one week. .Music directing again on piano is Tommy Faragher on piano.

Vegas Holiday is Young’s third telecast from Las Vegas’ intimate The Space, the former recording studio of rapper, songwriter, actor, and now TV producer 50 Cent. Young will not be staying at his one-time Vegas home-away-from home, the Palazzo at the Venetian Resort, where Jersey Boys became a Vegas mainstay for more than four years. “I wasn’t in the cast there, but it was fun walking around and seeing the show logo  on gaming tables and B-roll from Broadway playing in the elevators.” 

He’ll hit the highway for the four-hour drive to Vegas early Friday and promises a first-class concert. “During this pandemic entertainers are quite limited in what they can do. I didn’t want to do a show halo-lit from my kitchen in my underwear, but properly dressed in a state-of-art performing arts space. It will be like a TV special.” The 3,000 square foot black box, highlighted by excellent acoustics and lighting, is west of the Strip, two blocks from Dean Martin Drive at Polaris Avenue and Cavaretta Court.

He describes the live stream as “an up-close intimate evening of memorable holiday classics, theatrical treasures, pop classics, nostalgic rock tunes, Motown, and doo- wop.” You might anticipate a dollop of tunes from favorites Young draws from: Roy Orbison, Smokey Robinson, Little Anthony, and Rodgers & Hammerstein. Oh! Last but by no means least: there’ll be Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons tunes.

“It’s important to come together during this time and remember how things used to be,” says Young, “to feel the joy and comfort holidays can bring. The songs might invite  sing-alongs.” 

“Have the chestnuts roasting on an open or virtual fire and sit back safely with family and friends,” he continues. “Pop the corn, bake the cookies, put out the candy canes. Since it’s the onset of the holiday season, we’ll virtually raise a glass of eggnog to toast the holidays together.”

Young says, “In our business, it’s a cliché that you play to the back row of the balcony, but on TV you play to the camera and everyone’s in the front row. It’s like the audience is sitting in my lap.” He adds that he’s also the director. “I’ve been doing concerts worldwide long enough to go solo. We do have a masked engineer in the booth keeping up with me and operating the cameras.”

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John Lloyd Young relocated to New York after university and was soon cast in Off Broadway and regional plays. He auditioned for the 2004 premiere of Bob Gaudio, Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice, and Bob Crewe’s Jersey Boys at San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse, but wasn’t cast. However, the next year, when the show was heading to Broadway, he won the dream role of Frankie Valli. The show became a smash, running 4,642 performances. Young won the Tony for Best Actor/Musical [and a Grammy Award with co-stars for the original cast album]; and co-starred in Clint Eastwood’s 2014 film adaptation. He also starred in the musical on the West End.

Young has been an L.A. resident since 2008 when he came out to do Les Miz at the Hollywood Bowl. “I stayed long enough to get a feel for the far flung city and loved it. So, I relocated.”

His last stage performance was in 2017 at Montgomery’s Alabama Shakespeare Festival, where he played Tom in Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. “It was a perfect fit for me, but don’t get me started. It’s a memory play, and Tom is channeling Williams telling his own story – even the character is named Tom [Williams’ legit first name]. I found it interesting to play a character if written at the time, the character would be quite obviously homosexual, and wouldn’t have to hide it. Williams has to skirt around the issue, but I imagine audiences knew where Tom was going every night and why he didn’t come home till two in the morning. He was drinking heavily and felt trapped. I found it rewarding to approach Tom in a way that wasn’t beating around the bush.”.   . 

It’s obvious that Young is a non-stop, high energy person. Some may be surprised that in addition to his music, he’s had a steady contemporary pop art and portrait [the one of President Obama will be displayed at his Chicago Presidential Library; he’s working on one of President-elect Biden] career in the “Warhol-Meets-Liberace tradition for over a decade.   

Following his success in Jersey Boys, Young performed concerts at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Cafe Carlyle, the U.S. Embassy in Finland, and New Year’s Eve in Times Square. He’s appeared here at Feinstein’s/54 Below. Young is a West Coast favorite with regular appearances at his home base, Feinstein’s Vitello [where he’ll be doing a New Year’s Eve Live Stream countdown at midnight New York time]. He’s played San Francisco’s Feinstein’s at the Nikko and Eastwood’s Tehama Golf Club in Carmel-by-the-Sea. 

Most memorable have been the several times he’s sung at the White House. The first visits occurred after doing tuneful fundraising for the Obama/Biden ticket. “One of the headiest times was when Clint Eastwood, my colleagues from the Jersey Boys movie, and I performed at the State Dinner, with all its pomp and circumstance, honoring the Prime Minister and First Lady of Japan.

“However,” he adds, “my favorite time was in 2014 performing in the East Room for Michelle Obama, the Honorary Chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), to leverage support from members of Congress and assorted dignitaries for  aid to poor performing schools. The President, who was not set to attend, made a surprise appearance, resulting in squeals of delight from a few dozen elementary school kids from around the nation.” 

Young was honored to be appointed by President Obama in2013 to the PCAH. He remained active into the Trump administration, resigning in 2017 – co-signing with others a letter that read “ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions.” 

Over four decades in show business, Grammy-nominee Faragher produced Katy Perry’s #1 Billboard hit “Teenage Dream” for TV’s Glee; and has written for Celine Dion, Al Green, and the O’Jays. He’s been Young’s music director since 2012. He produced  Young’s album of soul classics “My Turn”; and  music directed the singer’s shows across country.

Tickets for John Lloyd Young’s Vegas Holiday concert segment thisFriday are $30; and $100 for the virtual VIP virtual after party. For tickets for the week of future OnDemand telecasts and additional information, visit www.thespacelv.com. For information on John Lloyd Young’s future dates and to purchase autographed CDs, photos, and posters; and assorted merchandise, visit www.JohnLloydYoung.com.