There are talents that transcend time to become legends, and then there are those that channel these legends, making us all feel the presence of a lost master. On rarer occasions, we mere mortals get to experience someone who is both. John Lloyd Young is both.
Born in Sacramento, California, on our nation’s birthday in 1975, Young is a representation of the American dream in action. His career began when he moved to New York City with the aspiration of making on Broadway. He had many an initial success, including roles in such plays as Michael Healey’s The Drawer Boy, Julia Jordan’s The Summer of the Swans (played Charlie) and the Douglas Langworthy translation of Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening.
His rise to superstardom hit a snag, however, when he initially failed to secure the role of Frankie Valli in the pre-Broadway production of Jersey Boys. But serendipity cannot be deterred and, barely a year later, in 2005, Young was asked to headline the Broadway production. He would spend the next two years wowing audiences and critics alike.
Young remains the only American actor to win lead actor honors from the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Theatre World awards for a Broadway debut. But the accolades didn’t stop there. He also received a Grammy for best show album for Jersey Boys and a Drama League Award nomination for performer of the year.
In 2014, he went on to star as Valli in the Jersey Boysfilm version of directed by film legend Clint Eastwood. Despite the success that playing Valli had brought him, Young was not satisfied with being known simply as an impersonator — even though many felt he channeled the legend “with uncanny accuracy.”
From that lofty stepping stone, Young launched a solo career that saw him headline such legendary venues and events as the White House, Radio City Music Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the New York City Marathon, New Year’s Eve in Times Square and Yankee Stadium.
Young returned to California and took up residence in Los Angeles. There he earned a guest star role in the massively popular TV show “Glee,” as well as guest spots in “Vegas” and “Law & Order.” He also appeared as Marius in Les Misérables at the Hollywood Bowl and released a debut album My Turn.
His presence has been felt in other arenas of life, too. President Barack Obama asked him to join the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, a role he served in until he, and the other 16 members, disbanded the committee in August 2017, citing President Donald Trump’s “hateful rhetoric” about the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, as the breaking point.
Young is also an active visual artist and philanthropist. His art premiered at “Food for Thought,” a show benefiting AIDS Project Los Angeles in 2010. He also is active with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, amfAR, Paul Newman’s The Hole in the Wall Gang, the USO and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, which is especially dear to him since he lost his mother to the disease when he was just 2 years old.
So it should be no surprise that when Young makes his triumphant return to Las Vegas that he’ll be taking the stage at The Space, a venue dedicated as much to philanthropic change as to great performance. He will perform for two consecutive nights, Dec. 8-9. Tickets will be limited, so get them while you can.