By Hillary Weston
Aaron Tveit of ‘Catch Me If You Can’ Takes Us Around Soho From a table inside Manhattan’s Jane restaurant, Aaron Tveit—part Disney prince, part Abercrombie & Fitch model—throws on his Ray-Ban Wayfarers and starts singing. “I wear my sunglasses at night, so I can, so I can,” he croons to the venue’s waitstaff and a few early birds. Song comes easily and often to Tveit, and lucky for all of us, he’s got a golden set of pipes. A true triple threat, the 27-year-old, New York-based actor has already successfully crossed over from Broadway (Next to Normal, Rent) to television (Ugly Betty) and film (Ghost Town), and back to the Great White Way, where his turn as the notorious Frank Abagnale in the Broadway debut of Catch Me If You Can will probably make him a star.
“I am there so much for work that I try to escape as much as possible,” Tveit says of New York’s Theater District while trudging through the snow-covered streets of Soho en route to his next favorite hang. When he’s not shuttling between Astoria, Queens—where he lives with a roommate—and Times Square, Tveit ventures downtown to catch his breath. Still, he’s not complaining about his busy schedule. “There’s nothing like being on the stage,” he says. “It’s different every time, and the immediate response from the audience is like nothing else.” It’s been over a year since Tveit was last seen on Broadway, but this month he’ll take the stage for the first previews of Catch Me If You Can, reprising a role he’s been perfecting for the past five years.
Over a pint of Stella Artois at his preferred Gramercy bar, Plug Uglies, Tveit reveals that, three years ago, he was asked to do a screen test for the role of Finn on TV’s Glee (a part that eventually went to Cory Monteith). He removed himself from contention, however, opting instead to follow his passion for the theater and continue working in Next to Normal and Catch Me If You Can. “I think that show’s great and I’m glad it’s gone on to be a huge success,” he says, “but it wasn’t right for me at the time.”
Between playing Gossip Girl’s congressional candidate Trip van der Bilt (which had him making clandestine moves on Blake Lively’s Serena), nerd-hunk playwright Zachary Boule on Ugly Betty, and Allen Ginsberg’s lover Peter Orlovsky in Howl, Tveit has locked lips with some of Hollywood’s hottest stars. “Everyone asked me at the Howl opening about kissing James Franco, but in that department, Blake definitely takes the cake,” he says, donning a crinkled smile that could make just about anyone blush.
Plug Uglies , 257 3rd Avenue 212-780-1944
I’ve never really been to a club in New York. I usually just stick to bars when I go out. I like it here because it’s an unpretentious, genuine dive bar. Plus you get to play shuffle-puck. This is where my friends and I always seem to end our nights. We actually came here after my buddy’s wedding reception. Everyone was still in their suits, and the bride was in her gown. I’m not a big cocktail guy, but I like my beer. There’s a great jukebox, so when there’s room I’ll throw on some old ’90s hip-hop and get down. I listened almost exclusively to hip-hop in high school and still love me some old Nas and Jay-Z songs.
Flying A, 169 Spring Street 212-965-9090 (Closed)
I always come here and follow the same pattern: I walk in, wander through the racks of clothing, and then I get to the end and walk out. They have really great boots and vintage T-shirts that I love. I really like the experience of shopping, which is crazy because I hated it as a kid. But working so much and being in New York, shopping is a great way to clear your head. I like this place because it’s not like Topshop—there are always only a few people in the store. I think clothes are really helpful when trying to get into character for a show. When I was in Rent I got all tatted up to be Roger and put on those iconic plaid pants and giant boots. Catch Me If You Can has also influenced me fashion-wise. Since doing the show, I’ve started to get really into ’60s-style suits, and I finally bought myself a pair of quality sunglasses. Being on the set of Gossip Girl, I’d have to say that Ed Westwick definitely had the best on- and off-screen style. That guy really knows how to put things together.
Spring Street Natural, 62 Spring Street 212-966-0290 (Moved)
I don’t eat strictly organic stuff, but I am working out five days a week and trying to get my body in shape to run this marathon of a show, so I try to eat really healthy. They have a great yellowfin tuna salad and an amazing organic stir-fry. I like to convince myself it’s healthier here. I’m a big fan of this neighborhood and they’ve got a great bar, so sometimes I’ll also come down here and grab a beer.
Jane, 100 West Houston Street 212-254-7000
This is definitely a special occasion type of place, and it’s really cozy at night. I like the vibe, and they support local farmers so it’s all clean, local grub. They have this dessert here—it’s essentially cookies and milk—and you have to order it in advance because they bake the cookies fresh and they come out half-cooked. Then they bring you a giant glass of milk with a scoop of fresh gelato. It makes you feel like you’re 10 years old again. I’ve been raving about these cookies forever, so I finally took my brother here on New Year’s Eve. There was a prix-fixe menu, and they didn’t have them. I have to say, I was legitimately angry.
La Colombe, 270 Lafayette Street 212-625-1717
I’ve been coming here ever since I moved to the city, which was about four-and-a-half years ago. I just stumbled in here one day after an audition. It’s probably my favorite spot to get coffee. The coffee is just so good, and I try not to go to places like Starbucks whenever I can. The space is designed really well, open but still intimate. I don’t do lattes or any of that kind of stuff, so I usually just grab an iced coffee in the summer or an espresso when it’s cold.