Barbara Cook’s Spotlight: John Lloyd Young

John Lloyd Young, Tony-Award winner and musical wonder of the Broadway never-ending (and well-deserved to be!) musical hit Jersey Boys, enthralled the crowd at The Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater Friday night with a spattering of songs of all styles. From the auspicious start of the show, when Young bounded out on the stage wearing an elegant tuxedo, singing the infectious and buoyant “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You”- it was evident that Mr. Young was at his most beguiling singing the upbeat romantic songs from Jersey Boys.

John Lloyd Young. Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center.

John Lloyd Young. Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center.

Young projects an aura of seductive, urbane confidence and thus quality shot out like a laser beam to a very enthusiastic, nostalgic audience that, indeed, seemed composed of fervent and adoring fans. He plays solidly to his base and he incorporated interactive elements that were disarming such as walking out into the audience and serenading female members and encouraging everyone to sing while singing the popular “Sherry.”

Mr. Young was ably accompanied throughout by his Music Director, arranger and pianist Tommy Faragher – who also sang delightfully, as he sang several duets very effectively with Young. Bob Dodelin on Bass, Jim Roberts on Guitar and Frank Carroll on Drums all aided immeasurably to the musical arrangements of the concert.

Young’s cover of Cole Porter’s “In the Still of the Night” was intriguing and he gave it all he could with an attempt at Porter’s sophisticated and somewhat elusive style.

“Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney was a brave stab but this is a difficult song to sing. Young’s bracing tenor (with “falsetto-like” shadings) is fascinating to listen to (I would make the analogy that Johnny Mathis has a voice that is fascinating in itself but does not necessarily work with every song).

Most of the concerts and cabaret produced in the Barbara Cook’s Spotlight Series usually involve interesting patter and anecdotes – and, unfortunately, the patter here was mostly puerile and antiseptic, with such comments as, “I love Washington, DC,” “Everyone in Washington is important,” and “I love America.”

When paired with the right material, John Lloyd Young is a fine musical talent and cabaret artist.

Young’s encore –Bacharach and David’s “A House is Not a Home” is another example of a song that was simply beyond Young’s emotional depth. None of the forlorn devastation of a breaking heart was inherent in the rendition. This song is a challenge for the most polished singers.

Much more effective was Young’s superb rendition of Smokey Robinson’s “Who’s Loving You.” He brought out all of the feeling of the song with a voice that seductively caressed every line.

Another standout was Young’s superlative cover of the beloved song “Unchained Melody,” As Young sang with pleading urgency, “I hunger for your kiss —“and other such endearment, the effect was palpable. The resonance of Young’s voice was enthralling and it merged beautifully with the superior and complex musical arrangement.

Perhaps the most stunning song Young covered was “Hey There, Lonely Girl.” Young sang the song in a fervent theatrical and, concurrently, almost conversational style that was highly engrossing. This song was delivered in almost “falsetto-like” tones that fit the mood of the song perfectly.

The songs “Show and Tell” and “Hurt So Bad” were very charming and effective standouts as well. When Young is coupled with the right material that is suited to his maturity and vocal style he can, indeed, work wonders with his material. An appreciative audience of fans can attest to that fact!

Running Time: Two hours, with no intermission.

John Lloyd Young performed on Friday, November 20, 2015 at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater as part of the Barbara Cook’s Spotlight series. For future Kennedy Center events go to their events calendar.

RATING: FOUR-STARS18.gif

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6 Responses to Barbara Cook’s Spotlight: John Lloyd Young

  1. Kathy Blackwell November 22, 2015 at 10:35 pm #

    While I certainly do respect Mr. Friscic’s right to his opinion, I wish to invoke my right (as an American citizen who was in attendance at the same concert!) to express my own opinion! Over all, I was pleased with the review, but there were a couple points that I disagree with, such as the comment regarding a lack of “well-developed writing” involved in Mr. Young’s conversation with his audience, which shouldn’t even have been mentioned at all because everyday conversation is not supposed to be “scripted”! This was not intended to be some new stage play, but rather a special evening enjoyed by a talented entertainer with his loyal supporters! Mr. Young expressed admiration for our country, & what we stand for, he wasn’t looking to impress anyone, he was simply sharing a sense of optimism which is sorely lacking in today’s society! Also, I’ve heard the song “A House Is Not A Home” sung by it’s writer Burt Bacharach, & I felt that he lacked the proper emotion for his own song, whereas Mr. Young sang it with such deep feeling that it does in fact make you sad enough to cry!! While Mr. Young may be best known for “Jersey Boys” (for which he deservedly won a Tony Award!) most people don’t make the effort to look beyond that image to see what a supremely talented singer Mr. Young actually is, which is a shame, because he truly does possess an immeasurable singing voice, one that is capable of bringing life to ANY song, but unfortunately not all human ears are capable of appreciating that incomparable range!! Thank you for allowing me to express my own personal opinion, which is in no way connected to the John Lloyd Young management team or any representative from his circle, but rather is coming from a satisfied audience member!!!

    • Joel Markowitz
      Joel Markowitz November 23, 2015 at 11:22 am #

      Editor’s comment: Another review by Jennifer Perry on BroadwayWorld has similar opinions that Mr. Frisic had. You can read the review here:

      http://www.broadwayworld.com/washington-dc/article/BWW-Review-John-Lloyd-Young-Makes-Kennedy-Center-Solo-Cabaret-Debut-20151120

      We have received several irate comments from John Lloyd Young fans filled with personal attacks. Although I respect everyone’s opinion and right to leave a comment, I will not allow comments that are filled with profanity and personal attacks to appear on this site and here. Remember, a review is one person’s opinion. If you disagree, disagree respectfully. Also, I am a huge admirer of Mr. Young’s talent and I saw him perform in ‘Jersey Boys’ 7 times, and it was one of the greatest performances I have ever seen on the stage and I respect his enormous talents and vocal skills. I am a big fan. But I was not at the concert on Friday night so I will not voice my opinion because I wasn’t there. But, these two reviewers who I admire were.

      Also Mr. Frisic’s other reviews and Ms. Perry’s reviews on BWW have been consistently glowing reviews for past performances at the Barbara Cook Spotlight series. You can read Mr. Frisic’s reviews here: https://dcmetrotheaterarts.com/?s=barbara+cook&submit=Search

      • Dawn Deines November 24, 2015 at 10:57 pm #

        I’m sorry that anyone would be disrespectful. I know Mr. Young wouldn’t want that. I think people just care about him so much they get very protective of him. But rudeness is never a good thing.

        I thought this review was much better that the other you mentioned here. And both reviewers discuss his beautiful voice, and made some spot on observations. Some seemed a little less so. I did notice other BWW reviewers have always had much more positive things to say than Ms. Perry.

        I just have to respectfully disagree about Maybe I’m Amazed. I’ve heard Mr. Young sing it twice now, and am wishing he could record it! I absolutely love how his voice sounds on that song! And I think he infuses emotion into everything he sings. That’s part of what draws so many to him. But everyone has an opinion. And that’s the critics job. To give theirs.

  2. Linda Bradley November 23, 2015 at 7:26 am #

    I had the pleasure of being in the audience at the Terrace Theater at the Kennedy Center Friday night for John Lloyd Young’s show. I’ve also attended numerous other shows of Mr. Young’s in the LA and San Francisco areas in the past year. While I agree with most of Mr. Friscic’s comments in this review, and appreciate his acknowledgement of Mr. Young’s talent, I would like to make a few comments. I respectfully disagree with Mr. Friscic’s opinion that any song in his repertoire is beyond his emotional depth. One of the reasons he’s such a great singer is that he’s also a talented and accomplished actor (with a Tony to attest to that). As a result, he brings an emotionality and depth of feeling to all of his songs, the likes of which I‘ve never experienced with another singer. I’m also unclear as to what is meant by “material that is suited to his maturity”.

    In my opinion, he covers all of the songs on his CD “My Turn” better than the original artists, and I mean every one of them, including “In the Still of the Night” and “A House is Not a Home”. All this with no autotune or enhancement to the vocals on the CD. I love McCartney, but I like Mr. Young’s rendition of “Maybe I’m Amazed” even better. The song was dedicated to his fans, and he’s not merely singing the words; he means them. He goes out of his way to acknowledge his musicians and his fans, and his sincere and heartfelt appreciation is endearing. Every word of the “patter” is deliberate. Far from being intended to fill the space between songs, it’s intended to deliver a message. What is “puerile” about that?

    Mr. Young has an amazing range from baritone to falsetto, tremendous talent, is one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet, and he exudes class and good manners in a world of self-absorbed celebrities. Polished? Let the three standing ovations speak to that.

  3. Marie Cauley November 23, 2015 at 10:42 pm #

    It was an honor to attend John Lloyd Young’s performance on Friday night, and I do appreciate those comments in the review that were positive. But the other parts of this critique missed the mark entirely. There is a reason why JLY chooses the songs that he does – because he connects with them on an emotional level. In turn, he makes all of us feel every emotion as well – he performs with so much passion that that you can’t help but feel the music through every inch of your soul. That includes “A House Is Not a Home”, in which I could certainly hear and feel the heartbreak that this reviewer somehow seems to have missed. As for his “patter”, every single word of it makes sense if you pay attention to how it connects with him and the music, without taking a few snippets of words out of context. I also wonder why this review failed to mention his three standing ovations, which certainly say a lot about what kind of performance we all witnessed. Not only will you find a more talented individual, but you would be hard-pressed to find a more authentic and caring human being – one, who I might mention, serves on the President’s Committee for the Arts and Humanities and shares his time and talent with children in the Turnaround Arts program. Perhaps the reviewer could look deeper, rather than just skimming the surface. You may be surprised what can be found when you make the connection. And John Lloyd Young connects with his audience on every level. It doesn’t get much better than that.

  4. Audrey Gornak December 23, 2015 at 2:54 pm #

    First time I saw JLY was in Jersey Boys movie. He was fantastic. I watch it every time it comes on TV.
    Of course I have his CD My Turn. I have always loved all those songs but love them more now.
    I think he can sing anything. I agree that he puts his all into each word. He feels what he is singing.
    You can’t do any better than that. He is an amazing talent and I suspect human being.