2014年12月、イギリスの雑誌The Americanに載ったアーロンのインタビュー。『アサシンズ』出演のために渡英した時のもの。

RENT, Hairspray, Next to Normal, Wicked, saved, Catch Me You Can, Ghost Town, Gossip Girl, Ugly Betty, Les Misérables, Grace-land… 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 instru-ment,” 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. Some-how, two years later, I got a job in 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 War-ren) 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 audition-ing, then getting into the rehearsal room on the first day and finding out I’m not ‘the guy’!”


Aaron has decided to hit the boards again, but rather than sure-fire 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, and Jamie Lloyd, the director is an utter genius. Assassins is an amazing piece. We’re ripping it apart and finding a new way to play it. Previous productions have been review-style… one scene, blackout, next scene. Nothing’s been cut, it’s all there, but we’re playing it as one story, a full ensemble piece.”

It’s an unusual subject for a musical entertainment: the thirteen people who have tried or succeeded to assassinate the President of the United States. “It’s interesting getting into the minds of these people, the human aspects to these monsters we have in our heads, and how their stories tie together,” he says.

Aaron plays the best known, John Wilkes Booth, President Abraham Lincoln’s assassin. “I read a lot about him, and his own writings,” he explains. “His older brother was the premier Shakespearean actor of the day and John was a command-ing, virile actor. He was passionate about his political views too. Lincoln saw Booth in a previous play, and at one point when John had an antiestablishment line he broke out of character, pointed his finger directly at Lincoln and delivered the line.”

Do you have to like the character to play him? “I don’t think so, but you have to understand where they’re coming from. The way we think, as 21st Century progressive Americans, may be different to how they thought then. It was only 80 years after the Declaration of Independence, when they’d been promised liberty and the choices to live how they wanted. Here was a president breaking the values that the country was set up with – as they saw it – and expanding presidential power for the first time.

If you put yourself in their position – and put aside slavery being wrong – it kind of makes sense.” The cast includes the great American comedian and actor Mike McShane, who plays Samuel Byck, the would be assassin of President Richard Nixon, and Catherine Tate (famous as Donna in Doctor Who, as Sara Jane Moore, who tried to kill Gerald Ford.

Finally, what’s the best thing about being Aaron Tveit?”I get to do what I love every day, honest to goodness!” *

Assassins runs at The Menier Chocolate Factory, Southwark St, London SE1 1RU, through March 7th, 2015.



Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by John Weidman
Menier Chocolate Factory, 53 Southwark Street, London SE1 1RU
Until March 7, 2015
Reviewed by Jarlath O’Connell

Assassins, The Menier Chocolate Factory Andy Nyman and Catherine Tate in Assassins. Photo: Nobby Clark

You enter the Chocolate Factory to find it re–configured this time as a traverse stage, which has been artfully transformed by Soutra Gilmour into a dilapidated fairground shooting gallery. A huge plastic clown’s head, like something out of a Stephen King novel, is overturned and looking forlorn and two lightbulb signs for ‘Hit’ and ‘Miss’ catch your eye.

Sondheim’s darkly delicious musical, from 1990, which recounts the hard luck stories of 9 individuals who attempted and sometimes succeeded to assassinate US Presidents, has in the past been presented as a revue–style sequence of playlets. Here, however, director Jamie Lloyd incorporates all the murderers from the outset as a sort of deranged chorus of extras. They’re under the command of the fairground’s Proprietor (Simon Lipkin), whose face is smudged with Joker make–up and who begins by issuing each a handgun, drawn from the illuminated inside pockets of this long trenchcoat.

Lloyd and choreographer Chris Bailey have done wonders in infusing the piece with such theatrical dynamism and in responding to the richness of Sondheim’s score. The music typically encompasses a plethora of genres: folk ballads, Sousa marches, waltzes, gospel, rag and a honeyed ballad which could have been penned by The Carpenters, ‘I am unworthy of your love’. That song is sung by the nerdish, John Hinckley (Harry Morrison), who shot Reagan in order to secure the attentions of Jodie Foster, with whom he’d become totally obsessed. Typical of Sondheim, when he gives you sweet, you’d better watch out.

Weaving together the totally disparate stories of these nine sad folk must have seemed like utter folly. Little unites the stories and indeed some are quite epic but they persevered and the genius of the piece is that it tells each tale with remarkable brevity, while trying, as much as it can, to help us understand their motives.

Assassins, The Menier Chocolate Factory
The cast of Assassins. Photo: Nobby Clark

Some of the stories are better than fiction. Samuel Byck, for example, who tried to fly a light aircraft into the White House to kill Nixon, was foiled in his attempt because he neglected to disengage the wheel blocks from the plane. Embodied here by comedian, Mike McShane, this crabby, walking midlife crisis is eerily dressed in a soiled Santa outfit. Then there’s the utterly ditzy suburban housewife Sarah Jane Moore (comedienne Catherine Tate) and the frenzied cultist Lynette Fromme (Carly Bawden) who farcically tried to get Ford. Both are pure comic gold. One carried her kid and her dog in the car with her to her shooting (well, you can never get a babysitter), while the other was so brainwashed by Charles Manson she was incapable of focusing her festering fury in any one direction.

Aaron Tveit (imported from Broadway) cuts a dash and sings divinely as the actor John Wilkes Booth who shot Lincoln. Another standout is Andy Nyman as Charles Guiteau who shot Garfield. His personality is a tightened coil of ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ gone septic.

We end of course with the grassy knoll and the Texas Book Depository and here we see a rather gormless Oswald (Jamie Parker) egged on by the voices of the chorus. As Booth puts it: “Murder is a tawdry little crime but when a President gets killed he is ASSASSINATED”.

Weidman’s book touches on the dark side of the American Dream and how this is the ultimate statement for these lost souls but the piece never tries to judge or pontificate. It is infused with a wit and in no way is this a grim night out. It has, after all, two top comedians in the cast, who are expert at delivering a killer line.

On the creative side Gregory Clarke’s sound design is exemplary. Normally, good sound is when you don’t notice it but here it’s a central element in the production’s success, adding layer upon layer of atmosphere. Again, director Jamie Lloyd confirms he’s at the top of his game.