Orange Magazineはアーロンの生まれ故郷のMiddletownを含むオレンジカウンティの地域情報誌。 2011年4-5月号(21号)のCatch Me If You Can公演中の記事を発掘したので貼っておきます。
高校時代からCatch Me If You Canに至るまで、アーロンやご両親や高校の音楽の先生にもインタビューして書かれた7ページ?の記事らしい。
Broadway’s next big thing
By Timothy Malcolm
It’s difficult not to be in awe of Aaron Tveit.
First, he’s impossibly handsome. A perfectly shaped, strong-boned face. Blue eyes that could pierce you to the heart. Rich, dark hair. Wearing a light blue plaid shirt, skinny jeans and clean sneakers, he personifies casual esteem.
That image mirrors his life’s history. There’s nothing very naughty about him – no careless mistakes, no poor choices, no wasted time.
The Middletown native played three varsity sports, impressed teachers and seized his life’s turning point with invigorating success. He’s the near-flawless portrait of the American dream. There could be apple pie filling running through his veins.
And the portrait of the American dream is about to leap into the stratosphere. Aaron’s most prominent Broadway showcase begins April 10 with the formal premiere – previews began March 11 – of “Catch Me If You Can,” the story of Frank Abagnale Jr., the teenage con who charmed his way across the globe and into millions of dollars, then redeemed himself after imprisonment with an FBI job. The story was first a 2002 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Abagnale.
Now, in the musical stage adaptation, the character sings in more than half of the songs. He also narrates. In short, the spotlight shines on Frank Jr. – on Aaron – throughout the entire two-hour, 15-minute affair. It’s not only a big role, but the biggest role yet for a young man seemingly undeterred, a young man from Orange County who personifies – with the cliché fully necessary – the American dream.
A few blocks away from Middletown’s Twin Towers Middle School, on Grand Avenue, was where Aaron Tveit (rhymes with eight, he points out) grew up. A baseball fan when young, Aaron hit a snag when he didn’t make the modified team in middle school. He turned to golf. His father, Stanley, was a member at the Orange County Golf Club, so Aaron played, and scored well enough to earn a spot on the Middletown High School team.
Aaron also played soccer as a midfielder. And he played basketball, first with his friends – the 10 or so who banded together around sixth grade – then on the high school team, but mostly as a benchwarmer.
But Aaron wasn’t the typical high school jock; in fact, nothing about Middletown High School was typical. It was a place Aaron could thrive by using his multiple talents. He could play basketball, golf and soccer, and also ascend to president of the school’s Academy of Finance, priming himself for a career in business. Add a student council stint and National Honor Society placement, and Aaron was, just about, as well rounded as any student.
Aaron could have worked with his ability to strike a golf ball onto the middle of a fairway, and he almost lived with his ability to turn a profit. But there was one other talent that, to those who knew a little something about it, was a gift beyond mere practice. Aaron could flat-out sing.
In June 1997, Middletown High School choral instructor Gregory Bennett held tryouts for the fall semester’s group of Pipers, Middletown High School’s song-and-dance performing chorus. Aaron, a band kid from Twin Towers Middle School, walked into the high school auditorium to audition with nothing prepared. And just like a cliché, the moment Aaron opened his mouth, the eyebrows facing him perked.
“I always got very positive responses on my singing since I was very little,” Aaron said, before pausing. “I didn’t know I was good or great.” Another pause. “I was confident enough to stand up there and sing in front of a room of people.” Aaron’s love of singing began early. He’d hide in his bedroom, fit on his headphones and listen to Boyz II Men, Jodeci and Bel Biv Devoe. Aaron also loved Nirvana and Pearl Jam, then, later, the hip-hop that dominated the charts in the late 1990s.
He sang along to a lot of it. Oh, and at 15, his parents overheard him singing to Andrea Bocelli. “I knew it was a very, very nice voice,” said Mark Gargiulo, a Goshen resident, opera singer and Aaron’s vocal teacher later, through high school. “But not off the charts.”
He did have a foundation, though, and so Aaron made the Pipers upon entering Middletown High School. Because of his musical talents, a friend suggested he audition for the spring musical, “Little Shop of Horrors.” The freshman shrugged it off. Then a friend said a lot of girls do musicals.
“All right, cool.”
Aaron auditioned and won the lead of Seymour. From there, Aaron reeled off a somewhat mythical run: four years at Middletown High School, four years as lead of the spring musicals. When talking about that run, Aaron doesn’t turn wistful. He makes no grand statements about his talent. He merely praises his alma mater.
“My brother went to Minisink, and he had to choose whether to be in athletics or drama,” Aaron said. “If I had to make that choice, I never would’ve gotten into drama. I would’ve played sports.“I think that I really value that I didn’t have to make that choice. It really led to a lot of things.”
On a blustery January afternoon outside the Neil Simon Theatre, Aaron is – as he seems always to be – in good spirits.
Wearing a coat, the blue plaid shirt and skinny jeans, he acknowledges the marquee just put into place at the front of the house. It depicts, on one end, a pair of sexy pink legs that run up to the sky, and on the other end, Abagnale standing in a relaxed showman’s position. That’s Aaron, star of a flashy musical with bright, bold sets and charming character. Star of a Broadway musical.
Before this there was “Next to Normal,” the powerful dysfunctional family tale set to rock, and before that were handsome-leading-man stints with “Hairspray” and “Wicked.” Aaron isn’t new on Broadway, and his resume outside midtown – “Gossip Girl,” “Howl,” “Ugly Betty” – indicates there’s a potentially brighter future ahead. But when speaking with Aaron, it’s revealed that “Catch Me If You Can” is his dream. It’s the triumph of his young entertaining life.
“Man, I auditioned for this show five years ago,” Aaron said. He sang for Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman while working on their adaptation of “Hairspray,” but was rejected initially. He kept trying. In the summer of 2007 he finally was cast in a reading, and then in January ’08 was cast as Frank Jr. In the summer of ’09, “Catch Me If You Can” premiered in Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre. During its three-week run, Aaron was widely praised.
“Tveit makes a star turn as Frank Abagnale Jr.,” wrote Lynn Jacobson of Variety on Aug. 8, 2009. “Charismatic, poised, confident, keen, Tveit is utterly convincing as a man who likes to convince.”
“I felt it in my gut that it’s going to be huge,” said Aaron’s mother, Posie Tveit. She and Stanley already have seen “Catch Me If You Can” three times in Seattle.
In a way, “Catch Me If You Can” signifies the first real battle for Aaron. For once, he didn’t immediately win the role. But because of his strong character, Aaron didn’t let the rejection beat him down – he simply kept trying.
“I think I’m a very happy person,” he said. “But I definitely bring elements of myself into the show. How hard that I’ve worked. How driven I am. How much effort and time I put into it and how much I’ve dreamt about this show. It’s definitely in my gut.”
Gregory Bennett can pinpoint the moment everything clicked for young Aaron Tveit.
“I can remember taking him during his sophomore year down to Broadway to see ‘Rent.’” This was nothing unusual. Bennett normally took – and still takes – his drama students to Broadway.
“I remember specifically, as we were walking out of the Nederlander Theatre, he said, right out of his mouth, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ “ Aaron realized, ‘I can do it,” recalled Stanley Tveit.
“‘Watching the people on stage, I can perform at that level.’”
So Aaron turned to music and drama. Through Mark Gargiulo, Aaron’s voice grew substantially. It was “the fire in his eyes,” according to Gargiulo, that separated Aaron from the pack. Aaron was driven to succeed vocally, so when Gargiulo assigned him a song to work on, Aaron would arrive the next week with the song completed.
“He had a plan for himself,” Gargiulo said. “He didn’t chitchat with me when he came in for his lesson. He was there for that reason. He had a mission.”
Stanley and Posie recall that Aaron would regularly finish homework during downtime, sitting in the auditorium at drama practice. He was constantly busy, yet always achieving.“We said to him, ‘As soon as something suffers, something’s got to give,’ recalled Stanley. “Son of a gun, the grades got better.”
After graduating from Middletown High School, Aaron took vocal classes in college. Life was about working those golden pipes. “The golden road has come to him not just by doing nothing,: said Bennett. “He’s had to learn so much in such a short amount of time.”
The casting director from the national tour of “Rent” visited Aaron’s college for a mock audition. Aaron sang for him. And just like in that moment in the Middletown High School auditorium just five years earlier, the eyebrows perked. Two months later, Aaron and Stanley drove to New York City for a callback. And the day he drove back to school, Aaron received an offer to tour the country as part of the “Rent” cast. He parked the car, dropped out of school and started his career.
“I said, OK, you’re 18. If you want to do it, go to New York. Give it five years (and if it doesn’t work), you’ll be 23 and broke. Give it 10 years, you’ll be 28 and broke,” Stanley told Aaron at the time. “But please don’t come back to us in 20 years and say, ‘I didn’t try.’”
Despite hitting it big, the work ethic continues. Stanley and Posie said producers and directors regularly praise Aaron’s ethic. Bennett noted that Aaron still refers to him as “Mr. Bennett.” That’s just the way he is.
“Part of his charm is who he is,” Stanley said. “He’s real, he’s respectful, he’s considerate.”And he’s still close to family. He and his Boston-based brother, Jon, maintain a close relationship – the siblings even vacationed together in Europe over the summer. And Aaron heads home to Orange County all the time, whether it’s to play a round of golf in the morning or to catch dinner with his parents on a night off. He’ll visit the Galleria, attend church, hang out with his lifelong friends and sometimes speak to students at Middletown High.“He’s not hiding,” said Bennett. “Stardom is the last thing that would ever go to his head. He knows who he is and lives by who he is every day.”
Aaron has almost never felt a setback.
But there’s “Catch Me If You Can,” the musical that seemingly eluded him in the beginning. But now he has it, thanks to perseverance and a willingness to see out his dreams. Now he can sing and dance beside Norbert Leo Butz, a 2005 Tony winner for Best Actor in a Musical in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” He loves Butz, “the best partner you can ever have on stage.” And he says he’s dumbfounded that he’s with Butz.
Yes, despite all the swift success, Aaron Tveit – this impossibly handsome Middletown native – isn’t even unaffected, he’s dumbfounded.And when talking about his place in theater, or the place he may yet occupy, Aaron knows it’s potentially monumental.
“In the vernacular of musical theater history, there aren’t many parts like this for young men,” Aaron said, adding that his range of work in “Catch Me If You Can” astounds him – as if he didn’t think he had that kind of range. Then again, he’s always had that kind of range.
“I still kind of step back and say, ‘I’m the guy that gets to do this?’ I feel so blessed and lucky.” He pauses once more. “I don’t know how anything can compare to this, honestly.”
And that’s when Aaron Tveit breaks cliché and becomes the next big thing.