Spring isn’t here yet, but in these seemingly endless, waning days of winter at least New York cabaret fans have reason to rejoice, because John Lloyd Young is back at the Café Carlyle, where he just opened his new show, Here For You, running pretty much for the rest of the month.
It has been a little over ten years now since Mr. Young rocketed to fame for his Tony-winning personation of Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys, a role he originated and performed for the first two years of the 12-year Broadway run and later reprised in Clint Eastwood’s 2014 film. Known for his boyish good looks and a strong tenor voice with an almost Olympian falsetto register, he absolutely nailed Mr. Valli’s distinctive pop vocal style, but in recent years John Lloyd Young’s career has taken more of a solo turn, and regulars at the Café Carlyle will be thrilled to welcome him back for his fifth annual appearance at that storied cabaret venue on East 76 Street.
If you arrive at your table at the swank Carlyle with the expectation of hearing John Lloyd Young reprise his earlier Broadway hits, you may be surprised to find that his repertoire has expanded to the point where only one song from Jersey Boys remains. Of course, it is Sherry. And of course, he blows it out of the room. But it’s not until the end of the evening that he gets there, and along the way the program zigzags through a protean assortment of pop tunes and quasi-standards like Show And Tell, the 1973 Jerry Fuller hit made famous by Al Wilson, Jim Morrison’s The Spy, recorded by The Doors in 1970, Paul McCartney’s Maybe I’m Amazed and Randy Newman’s Just One Smile. Mr. Young has an easy, confident stage manner, and reveals a wry, ingratiating intelligence in-between songs, whether he is telling a story or bantering with the band and the audience. The musical numbers are all delivered with polish and a deep sense of connection and concentration, but Mr. Young seems especially at ease singing in Spanish or Italian. Standout segments include the beautiful, plaintive ballad Usted (Gabriel Ruiz) and La Partida, an extended instrumental number that allows bandleader/pianist Tommy Faragher and the four-piece band to really let their stuff fly: with longtime Broadway pit veteran John Putnam on acoustic and electric guitars, Eric Kalb on drums and Paul Socolow on bass, this group brings a full spectrum of musical expertise to John Lloyd Young’s excellent, diverting show, Here For You.
Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:45pm, through February 25. Reservations can be made online via Ticketweb. Café Carlyle is located in The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel, 35 East 76th Street, at Madison Avenue. Dress code is chic attire; gentlemen must wear jackets.