By Tulis McCall

John Lloyd Young likes to sing, and lucky for us he will be doing that at Café Carlyle through May 18.  Almost as much as singing, this guy likes to chat.  One compliments the other well.  It is not an easy balance to achieve – and if you are a connoisseur of cabaret you know of which I speak.  Many a performer gets caught in one camp and neglects the other.  Young has this balance handled.

Not only does Young like to chat – he likes to give you fun facts – like how Richard Rogers and his wife were the first tenants in the Carlyle back in the day – 1930’s.  He will also tell you that the famous mural in the cafe is not a fresco – it is painted on canvas.  He clearly loves the Café and all the people who work there who he thanks several times throughout the evening.  As he does his musical director Steve Marzullo who single handedly keeps up with Young without any effort.

Naturally, Young refers to “Jersey Boys” for which he won a Tony in 2006 for his role as Frankie Valli – and not for nothin’ but he tells us that Valli JUST got a star on the the walk in Hollywood – 90 years on the planet and still kicking butt.

While most of the evening is devoted to “Jersey Boys” trivia, Young also pays homage to the many golden era Doo-Wop music – as he said in a TV interview recently he wanted to give the “Sinatra treatment to doo-wop”.  Beginning with the Platters “My Prayer” by (Georges Boulanger, Carlos Gómez Barrera & Jimmy Kennedy)

We take more than one stroll through his most recent album which is devoted to Doo-Wop.  The Five Satins’ “In the Still Of the Night” (Fred Paris).  Young has a way of transporting those of us who remember these songs back a few decades.

More about Jersey boys – how did he do research on Valli before there was YouTube?  Libraries and Mustum of Tinspirationelevision of course.  We take a detour into Roy Orbison who was Valli’s inspiration and influenced Young as well.  This is followed by a new discovery also by Orbison that was recorded but never released by Orbison.  “Say No More” is a heartbreaking salute to the broken hearts that all of us have felt at one time or another.

Although this show is designed for those of us who have a soft spot in out hearts from having treaded water in the mote of Doo-wop, Young is often at his best when he drops the “Jersey Boys” focus and wanders off on his own, as he he does with “Since I Fell For You” (Buddy Johnson).  Young’s interpretation is laser focused and simple.  A brilliant revelation.

John Lloyd Young; Photo by David Andrako

More than once Young plugs is new album “My Turn”  – including a turn with with the extravagant “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” (Mel Carter) which he delivers to the audience while he walks among us. “Can’t Take My Eyes of of you” (Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio,) pulls us in to the exact moment where we know precisely where and when to clap and then join in on the chorus.

If you are looking for a night out walking down memory lane – this is the place for you.  You will love Young’s reminiscences and fun facts as well as his experiences traveling the world as an ambassador of Doo-Wop.  You will adore his singing.  And if you are interested in Jersey Boys Broadway and movie trivia (Young tells us that the movie is on his mind because it has just started streming on HBO Max, but that feels like a bit of a stretch) you will get your fill.

What you will also get is a delightful evening with a guy who loves his work and the gifts that he has to give as well as the gifts that he has received.

John Lloyd Young at Café Carlyle through May 18.