Stage and screen star Aaron Tveit makes his New York City cabaret debut in a sold-out — and very buzzed-about — engagement at the swank Manhattan nightspot 54 Below. Playbill.com was there.
When tickets for Aaron Tveit's solo concert at 54 Below sold out in less than five minutes, it was clear that the dashing leading man (a Link Larkin and a Fiyero in the respective hit musicals Hairspray and Wicked, the original Gabe in Next to Normal and Frank Abagnale, Jr. in Catch Me If You Can, and the Enjolras of the starry Les Misérables film adaptation) had become a hot commodity in the Broadway community.
The room at 54 Below — filled mostly with "fangirls" in their teens and early twenties — was "alive" May 9, the second performance in Tveit's run through May 18, as the crowd awaited the singer taking the stage. Entering to a thunderous applause, Tveit kicked off the evening with "I'm Alive," his famous solo from the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Next to Normal.
The evening, which began at 9:30 PM, celebrated songs that Tveit connected with on a personal level. Before his second tune, he explained his first brush with theatre and the moment that he realized he could call the stage his home: when he was cast in West Side Story, the Tony Award-winning classic by Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, his junior year of high school at Middletown High School in Middletown, NY. He gave a quick shout out to classmates from the 2000 company who were in attendance at 54 Below and then launched into "Something's Coming," perfectly mixing the high A at the end of the number.
The actor, who confessed that although his stage success has been in contemporary works, he is a huge fan of legit musical theatre, offering a warm rendition of "If I Loved You" from Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel that led immediately into his take on Bob Dylan's "To Make You Feel My Love" (recently made popular by Adele), which was different from most versions. Tveit, inspired by Garth Brooks and his dad's love for country music, put a Southern twang on the ballad — a nod to his father.
"When I Was Your Man," a radio hit from Bruno Mars, was next. What was Tveit's special connection to the song? Not much, he confessed. "That was completely indulgent!" he said with a laugh. While the actor has a great knack for the classics, who could resist his belting, runs, riffs and vocal embellishments? Not the crowd at 54 Below!