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Photo credit @ David Andrako

Interview: Broadway belters coming to Crazy Coqs

John Lloyd Young discusses his upcoming performances at Crazy Coqs

American actor John Lloyd Young took Broadway by storm as the original voice of Frankie Valli in the smash hit musical Jersey Boys. He received Best Actor in a Musical awards that included a Tony, the Drama Desk award, the Outer Critics Circle awards, and additionally a Theatre World Award for a Broadway debut. Pretty impressive, right? This summer he’s coming from the big stage to the small but exquisitely formed space of the gorgeous Crazy Coqs, to headline his own fabulous cabaret evening of music and conversation, so we wanted to ask him all about it!

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us today. It’s really exciting that you’re going to be in London. Have you performed here before, and at Crazy Coqs?

I performed Jersey Boys right across the way at the Piccadilly Theatre! It was 2014, and I didn’t know about Crazy Coqs at the time, but I returned a few years later to play Crazy Coqs, right before the pandemic. I’m so glad to be coming back.

Can you tell us about what you have lined up for the evening?

I will be sharing showstoppers and stories from my Broadway, West End and Hollywood stints, as well as the inspirations that led me there. Songs from Jersey BoysThe WizLes Miserables and more, high falsetto, sonorous baritone, chills and thrills!

Which are your favourite numbers on the set list, and why?

Before Jersey Boys took me off to the 60s retro races, I was a big fan of classic Broadway and West End musical theatre. One of my favourite songs to sing, and probably the most old-fashioned of my set, is a Rodgers and Hart classic, “My Heart Stood Still.” Such a gorgeous ballad, typical of a certain time period evoking the romance and beauty of what they call the Golden Age of Broadway. I was swept away in all the Les Miserables epic romanticism years ago when it first came over stateside from London, and I dreamt myself into that show all my youth before I entered the profession. After the big success of Jersey Boys, I had the great privilege to play Marius at the Hollywood Bowl. “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” was a highlight in my life and is a highlight in this show. 

How does it feel to be going to this tiny cabaret space after a career packing out enormous venues? It’s a very different audience, I’d imagine?

Playing a small room is like giving a parlour concert to friends. I think I prefer it.

You’ve also worked in film, including Glee and Clint Eastwood’s version of Jersey Boys. Can you tell us a bit about how performing differs going from the stage to cinema and TV?

It’s that cliché, isn’t it? On stage, you must be sure the back row can understand your emotions – you project. On screen, the camera is right on your eyes, so you just think it. But what gets lost sometimes is that you still need to give a performance with capital P on screen; you can’t just do nothing. And then TV: production moves fast; you can barely think! Film moves slowly. Film’s more my pace. You get a lot more time with fewer pages on film. I like the focussed effort all day on very little material. And that you can try it lots of different ways and they cut into the best stuff. It’s fascinating after the edit to see what they chose of what you gave them.

When you’re not on stage you put a lot of energy into supporting charities and human rights organisations. Have you found your Broadway fame helpful in this regard?

My Broadway fame helped it all happen. It was before social media (!) and I remember soliciting donations from fans who followed my blog. I would collect hundreds of cheques and hand them over to the charity. It was so satisfying to be able to translate goodwill for a performance people loved into support for people and organisations who needed it.

On opening night you’re going to be chatting with celebrated writer and broadcaster Edward Seckerson. He has interviewed some all-time greats including Julie Andrews, Liza Minnelli and Stephen Sondheim – and now you! Does it feel a bit intimidating?

I am always very excited to be able to have a conversation with someone so accomplished. I’m eager to see where it leads! I end up learning things that become so valuable to me in my life and career, and when guided by someone with so much experience, I think the audience does too.

Thanks so much to John for taking the time to talk with us about this unique evening of Broadway and West End showstoppers; sounds like great fun! There’s going to be some fighting for reviewing spots here at ET Towers…

Tickets for the July 2 performance are available here. Tickets for the July 3 and 4 performances are available here.

About Mary Pollard

By her own admission Mary goes to the theatre far too much, and will watch just about anything. Her favourite musical is Matilda, which she has seen 16 times, but she’s also an Anthony Neilson and Shakespeare fan - go figure. She has a long history with Richmond Theatre, but is currently helping at Shakespeare's Globe as a steward and in the archive. She's also having fun being ET's specialist in children's theatre and puppetry, and being a Super Assessor for the Offies! Mary now insists on being called The Master having used the Covid pandemic to achieve an award winning MA in London's Theatre and Performance.