Various performers at the Café Carlyle through the years have concentrated on selections from what is known as the American Song Book. John Lloyd Young in his show called “My Turn” debuts at the Café Carlyle (February 12-23, 2013) with his own songbook, hits mainly from the 1960s, which dovetails with the fame he acquired as Frankie Valli in “Jersey Boys.” In fact, he has returned to “Jersey Boys,” taking a leave for his cabaret show, after which he’ll be back in the long-running production.
Young delivers on what his fans will come to hear in this stint, named after his album “My Turn…” On opening night he spent time getting acquainted with his audience, catching up on what he’s been doing since he moved to California after copping a host of awards for “Jersey Boys.” (I first met him in connection with the actor award given by Drama Desk when I was president of the organization of theater critics and journalists.) In addition to his singing appearances on the West Coast, he has been building a career in the art world and supporting a host of favorite charities.
In the audience for the opening were co-book authors of “Jersey Boys,” Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. This gave Young the opportunity for a bit of humor. He said they had advised him to talk about his humble beginnings—which he did—so that an audience would like him more. It was one example of the humorous manner that he projected in defining himself to get closer to the crowd, which he definitely managed to do as the show developed.
That didn’t overshadow his musical performance as the main event. For starters he was backed strongly by the seven piece band—“Glee” music producer Tommy Faragher, musical director also on piano and keyboard; John Putnam, guitar; Paul Socolow, bass; Eric Kalb, drums, Goke Erem, violin; Eddy Malave, viola, and Leigh Stuart, cello. It added up to a big sound appropriate for Young’s dynamic delivery.
The size of his repertoire provided the opportunity for Young, who looks trim and handsome, to show his stuff, including, where appropriate, to ascend to the sky-high voice that he flashes so impressively. He sang a wide array of numbers including “Only You,’ “Since I Fell for You,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “Just One Smile,” “Show and Tell,” “Since I Don’t Have You,” “You Belong to Me,” “Crying:, “Say No More,” and may others in his hour plus show.
Young had some fun riffing on why he thought it foolish to leave the stage and return for an encore. So he stood firmly at the mike and delivered, rising to a special height with “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me,” an example of Young at his best.
The booking at the Café Carlyle provides an opportunity for those who have thrilled to his performance in “Jersey Boys” to make his acquaintance close up in the intimacy of the fabled supper club. At the Café Carlyle, 35 East 76th Street (at Madison Avenue). www.thecarlyle.com. Reviewed February 13, 2013.