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The American

Aaron Tveit R

ent, Hairspray, Next to Normal, Wicked, Saved!, Catch Me If You Can, Ghost Town, Gossip Girl, Ugly Betty, Les Misérables, Graceland... this isn’t only a list of some of the best stage productions, television shows and movies of recent times, it’s the resumé of rising star Aaron Tveit. Now you can see him at a tiny London theater in Assassins, playing the man who killed a President. Unlike so many Thespians who regale interviewers with tales of hardship and woe, the charming Aaron Tveit’s talents seem to have been recognized and supported by everyone... once he decided that it was an actor’s life for him. Aaron was born in Middleton, 70 miles from his spiritual (and for the past ten years, actual) home of New York City, in October, 1983. Acting was just one of many strings to the Tveit bow at school. “I started playing the violin when I was four, then another instrument,” he says. “I started singing in fourth or fifth grade. My wonderful high school told us to do everything that we could. I played three sports, and they didn’t make us choose between sports and drama and music. If I’d had to, I probably wouldn’t have chosen drama. I did the school musical every year but I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I went to Ithaca College as a voice major, proper classical singing, but I missed being on stage desperately so I switched to the acting and musical theater program. Somehow, two years later, I got a job in

36 December 2014

the national tour of Rent and left Ithaca early.” Acting’s loss might have been the sportsfield’s gain – or investment banking’s. Aaron was academically bright too (how annoying can one man be!?) and he was President of the National Academy Foundation’s business program at high school. “I told my parents, if I’d gone into banking I would have started my career just when the crash happened. Maybe the arts was the sensible choice! But I know how lucky I’ve been. Somebody must’ve had a greater plan or it all wouldn’t have worked out.” Aaron hasn’t stopped working. He left Rent to join the first national tour of Hairspray then took it to Broadway. He played d’Artagnan in The Three Musketeers, then starred in Next to Normal, a part he returned to several times, Wicked, Saved! and Catch Me If You Can. TV beckoned, followed by movies. Within two “earth-shattering” days he was cast in Graceland (he plays Mike Warren) and the film adaptation of Les Misérables (he’s Enjolras, the student revolutionary leader). There’s been an album, The Radio in My Head, a live recording of show songs. He’s even had a street named for him in his home town. Has he had a day off in eight years? “I have! The great thing about growing up near New York is that I see my family and high school friends all the time. I’m not just in that acting world – I meet real people. London reminds me of New York in lots of ways (we shot Les Mis

here). There’s amazing theater all around you here too. London has an inner pulse, as New York has. I still look the wrong way every time I cross the road though!” Many working actors would have left their education behind. Not Aaron. “When I left Ithaca I was two and a half years in. I went back after a year for one semester then left again, so I’d done three years out of four. They gave me credits for my high school acting classes and the professional work I’d done, so I needed three science credits for my major. I graduated in 2012, eleven years late!” Aaron probably wouldn’t have to audition for parts now, but it’s a process he enjoys, as it lets him flex his acting, singing and dancing muscles, whether he gets the part or not. “And it’s better than being offered a part without auditioning, then getting into the rehearsal room on the first day and finding out I’m not ‘the guy’!”

Assassins

Aaron has decided to hit the boards again, but rather than surefire classic musical on Broadway he has chosen a lesser known show by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman, at the Menier Chocolate Factory in south London. “I’ve fallen in love with the craft of acting on camera, but there’s nothing like being on stage – it’s a living, breathing thing, you feel the audience reacting to you. The Chocolate Factory has such a reputation for doing great work,

The American December 2014 Issue 739  

The American has been published for Americans in Britain since 1976. It's also for Brits who like American culture.

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