By ABC NEWS June 16, 2006
A year ago John Lloyd Young was ushering theater fans to their seats; he’s now entertaining those theatergoers while celebrating his first Tony win for his role as Frankie Valli in “Jersey Boys.”
The musical about the early days of rock ‘n’ roll is Young’s first Broadway role, despite his previous attempts to sing onstage.
“I just wasn’t right for a lot of musicals, though I auditioned for them,” Young said. “I was willing to do anything, but I got cast in plays almost exclusively until this came along.
“The characters are edgy … and I’m more of a brooder than a happy-go-lucky kind of guy, so it fit this character really well,” Young explained.
His voice had been hibernating since his musical theater days at Brown University. So the Broadway neophyte had to train his muscles for a marathon of singing, performing eight shows a week with 27 songs such as “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like a Man.”
And then there’s that signature falsetto.
“I thought everyone had a falsetto. I never had a use for it, especially as an actor in plays in New York. And the only time I ever really used it was to amuse my friends at karaoke in college or singing along to Chicago or Supertramp or the Bee Gees,” Young said. “I never realized it would be the key to my career.”
All that crooning paid off this week, when he was awarded the highest award possible for a stage actor.
From the Aisles to the Stage
Young has had plenty of experience in Broadway theaters, but none of it was onstage.
“A year actually to the day before we opened ‘Jersey Boys’ I was ushering in a Broadway theater,” he said. “I was between acting jobs … with no clue that in less than a year I would have the role of a lifetime.”
He said the usher job may have seemed like a “dead end,” but it kept him in New York.
He first caught the acting bug as a young boy, performing in community theater in upstate New York, and taking trips to Broadway with his family. After college he headed to Manhattan and found work in regional theater and off-Broadway plays.
Now he’s celebrating his success in “Jersey Boys,” in a show he says transports audiences back to a different musical era.
“And everybody gets to live it along with us,” Young said. “We’re celebrating it together, because there are more moments … where you are sort of in a dreamland for a little while.”