When Aaron Tveit first took the stage for his high school’s theater performances, he never envisioned himself becoming a Broadway star. When he was first asked about auditioning for the school play, Tveit asked, “Why would I do that? They said a lot of girls do [theater], so then I said I’m in,” Tveit laughs.
As he prepares for his performance at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (WHBPAC) on Sunday, July 16, Tveit boasts an acting résumé equally diverse as it is impressive. His starring roles on Broadway as Gabe Goodman in Next to Normal and Frank Abagnale Jr. in the musical adaptation of Catch Me If You Can were met with critical acclaim. On screen, he played Enjolras in the Oscar-nominated Les Misérables movie, donned a leather jacket as Danny Zuko in NBC’s Grease: Live, starred in the USA drama Graceland and the CBS comedy BrainDead.
Tveit can sing, dance, act, play instruments, golf and seemingly do just about anything he puts his mind to. His talent, good looks and charisma have awarded him fame and the distinction of being a Broadway heartthrob.
All this for a boy from the Hudson Valley who never knew he wanted a career on stage until he was in college. Tveit always had a love for music, and was a member of his high school chorus and band. He turned down scholarships to study business, went to Ithaca College to study music instead, but soon found himself missing the stage.
“I had a lot of friends who were theater majors and they pushed me to the theater program,” Tveit says. “Then it all happened very quickly. All of a sudden I was in theater and it was really fulfilling. Then a year and a half later, I got cast in the national tour of Rent and I left school. It’s a crazy way to find yourself doing this for a living, but I was very lucky that once I set my mind to it, it happened very quickly. But I was totally in love with it at the same time.”
That initial Rent casting as Steve, while covering Roger and Mark, was a catalyst for the budding Broadway star. Tveit then joined the national tour of Hairspray. Immediately after the tour, Tveit reprised his role as Link Larkin in his Broadway debut.
“Being on Broadway is the hardest thing ever,” Tveit says. “It’s definitely the most rewarding out of all the media. When you’re on television, everything is in a vacuum, no one can laugh at your jokes because everyone has to be quiet. Being on stage and having 2,000 people cheer and laugh and cry for you every night is something you can never find anywhere else. It’s the hardest but it’s the most rewarding.”
Tveit’s national concert series has given him a new way to connect with audiences.
“Being on stage is definitely my first love, and that’s where it all started and where my heart is,” he says. “That’s what’s been great about these concerts, I still get to have this back and forth with the audience that I crave.”
At WHBPAC, Tveit will be singing songs he loves from Broadway and beyond, as well as interacting with the audience. “We do songs from shows I’ve been in that people may know, other stuff that I love and some Broadway and classic American songs,” Tveit says. “I try not to take it too seriously, but I try to have a good time and mix in some things that people might not expect me to sing.”
The day after the show, Tveit will begin preparing for Company, a musical, with the Barrington Stage Company in Berkshire County, Massachusetts.
“I’ve been doing concerts, one or two a month, since January. It’s coming to an end back in New York at a beautiful place, so I’m very excited to wrap it up closer to home.”
Catch Aaron Tveit at WHBPAC on Sunday, July 16 at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $51. Visit whbpac.org or call 631-288-1500.