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BWW Review: John Lloyd Young Returns To The Cafe Carlyle On A High Note With HEART TO HEART

BWW Review: John Lloyd Young Returns To The Cafe Carlyle On A High Note With HEART TO HEART
John Lloyd Young performing at Café Carlyle with violinist Gokce Erem
Photos: David Andrako

John Lloyd Young took to the stage at Café Carlyle on February 13 in a blue tux with black lapels and sunglasses. Thankfully, he removed the glasses quickly, but wearing them for his opening number, "You Only Live Twice," he looked like Frankie Valli all over again, a role he originated in Broadway's JERSEY BOYS, as well as in the film version of the musical.

In his latest show titled HEART TO HEART, running through February 24, Young continues to hearken back to an earlier era in look, sound, and song choice, mostly performing pieces that were written before he was born in 1975. Two tunes he performed were written in the earlier part of the 20th century: Hoagy Carmichael's classic "Stardust" from the '20s and "Nevertheless" from 1931. Another, the Spanish song, "Usted" by Gabriel Ruiz, was written in 1951.

The bulk of Young's song choices, however, were from the 1960s and 70s. He paid homage to Roy Orbison with "Only the Lonely" and the lesser-known "Say No More," as well as Paul McCartney on "Maybe I'm Amazed," Smokey Robinson on "Ooo Baby Baby," and Stevie Wonder with "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing," in which he invited the audience to join in.

Young particularly shined on the '70s songs "Show and Tell" made famous by Johnny Mathis and Al Wilson, Harry Nilsson's "One," a big hit for Three Dog Night, and "Lights" by Journey--- all perfect songs for Young's high tenor.

He sang only one ballad from musical theater, also from the '60s---"The Impossible Dream" from MAN OF LA MANCHA---and ventured past the '70s just three times. He dedicated Bob Dylan's tender 1997 love song, "Make You Feel My Love," to two couples in the audience, including Broadway World's own Richard Ridge and his husband, Preston Ridge, who were celebrating their anniversary. It was during this number that Young showed the most vulnerability.

BWW Review: John Lloyd Young Returns To The Cafe Carlyle On A High Note With HEART TO HEART
John Lloyd Young at Café Carlyle

The other two more contemporary pieces were the original songs "Slow Dawn Calling," written by Young and his musical director and keyboard player Tommy Faragher, and "Almost There," written by Faragher and Adam Zelkind. "Slow Dawn Calling" maintained the '70s throwback style, while "Almost There" had a more current sound.

Of course, Young had to include at least two Frankie Valli tunes. He performed "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" and asked audience members to help him with "Sherry" for his encore.

Besides Faragher, who played both piano and electric keyboard, Young was accompanied by Bashiri Johnson on percussion, who especially showed off his virtuosity during "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing" and "Usted", and by Gokce Erem, whose violin added a special dimension to the night.

Young has wonderful range and falsetto, but he's mostly a presentational singer with little interpretation of the lyrics. If he begins to show more emotional range and connect with the lyrics on a deeper level, he will take his performance beyond its already high level.

John Lloyd Youngs' HEART TO HEART continues at Café Carlyle through February 24. For tickets and information, visit

Melanie Votaw is a full-time freelance writer who has written 28 books. She covers travel, as well as theater, dance, and cabaret for Broadway World. Follow her on Twitter @melanievotaw.

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