2006 Tony Awards Q&A: John Lloyd Young

17/05/2006 by Robert Diamond for broadwayworld.com

John Lloyd Young is currently starring as Frankie Valli in Broadway’s JERSEY BOYS. For his work in JERSEY BOYS, John Lloyd has received the 2006 Outer Critics Circle Award (Outstanding Lead Actor), a 2006 Theatre World Award, and nominations for the 2006 Drama League Award (Performer of the Year), and the 2006 Drama Desk Award (Outstanding Lead Actor). Now, he adds a 2006 Tony Award Nomination for Best Leading Actor in a Musical to his list of credits. Before JERSEY BOYS, John Lloyd completed the New York-area premiere of Michael Healey’s THE DRAWER BOY, with Steppenwolf’s John Mahoney (TV’s Frasier), at the Paper Mill Playhouse. Regional appearances include the McCarter Theatre; Kennedy Center. John Lloyd was also named one of 2004’s Best Featured Actors in a Play by the NJ Star-Ledger for “Danny Saunders” in Aaron Posner and Chaim Potok’s dramatic adaptation of THE CHOSEN, opposite Theodore Bikel, at Miami’s Coconut Grove Playhouse and Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse, directed by David Ellenstein.

Tell us John what the last few weeks leading up to this morning have been like?

I feel great, and this morning is sort of a capper to the past great few weeks. This is the big one, but it’s been great, and it’s all been an amazing buildup to here because we’ve had lots of activity up until now. We’ve had the Theatre World Awards, the Outer Critics Circle Awards, and nominations for that and the Drama Desk Awards, so for it to now also happen with the Tony Awards, was perfect.

Given all the success, and how well you’ve been doing in ‘awards season’ so far, it sounds like there shouldn’t have been much doubt?

I was actually a little frightened that maybe it wouldn’t happen today. The more people that say that something’s going to happen, the more I worry that they’re going to be wrong. That’s a curse for us Catholics at least!

And how has the journey of JERSEY BOYS been for you?

Well, it is extremely intimidating to think that it was a little more than a year ago when I got the offer to do it. At the time, I was an actor who was doing plays primarily and some small musicals, but certainly not a major musical, and certainly I never had the lead in a major musical! A year ago, I was in a place where I was 2 months into rigorous training to just attempt to sing this score, not to mention that I was looking to star in it! It’s a show where I had to carry a great deal of it, and had to work with a company that had already done it at La Jolla, so I was going to be the new kid. I was petrified a year ago! I was working hard, and not letting my fear cripple me, but I was scared.

And now?

Well now I’m in a place where about 7-8 months into the run, I’m very comfortable and very confident in what I’m doing because all the initial work is behind me. There’s of course all the ongoing work of 8 shows a week, but it’s just a real rush to not only have achieved the stuff that I wanted to do for myself like playing the role and doing it justice, but to now also be recognized by my peers. That especially is great, and even more so because I’m like a new peer on Broadway this year. To make a long story short, if you look at the place that I was a year ago, and the place that I’m at now, it couldn’t be more different. If I had to write the book, I wouldn’t have written it any differently on how it all turned out.

For those of us that have seen the show, it’s clear that you’re put through the paces both vocally, and physically every night how are you holding up?

Getting through the show 8 times a week has always been a challenge, but the lucky thing for myself and my colleagues (and anyone that opens in a rigorous show) is that we opened in the winter. Those were the worst months, and we’re all very happy to have them behind us. I know that for our dance captains, not that our show has that much dance, but they hate the winter because you have to spend twice as long warming up.

I think that what was great for us was that opening in the winter made us all so strong from battling the elements so now that the weather has cleared up, the 8 shows a week are actually easier physically. This gives a reserve of energy for all the other stuff that’s happening in this awards season. Luckily it’s not as daunting now that the weather has given up.

So it’s not quite easy, but ‘easier’ ?

It will never be easy, but easier is an appropriate way to describe it.

Going back to this morning when the nominations came out who was the first that you heard from?

The first person that called me was my father, then my agent and someone’s even calling me on my cell phone right now it’s my mother again. The closest women in my life were the first people to call me, and my girlfriend was here with me which was a good thing to be able to watch that together.

Have you been able to catch any of the other men who are nominated in your category?

I’ve actually seen all of the men nominated in my category I’ve seen all of their performances, except for Stephen’s because he and I have the same exact schedule but I did see the opening number of The Wedding Singer last night at a benefit. It’s a tough category because everyone is really great, and so we’ll see what happens. Any result will be a fair one and they’re also all very nice at these functions where we’ve had a chance to talk. They’re all great guys.

Any last thoughts to wrap up with?

My voice teacher says that tens of thousands of people come to New York to be actors, thousands get paid for it, hundreds are on Broadway, dozens get leads, and only 5 get nominated for the Tony. So, I feel like all of us have won already!

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