Young Broadway actor Aaron Tveit plays Frank Abagnale Jr., the con man Leonardo DiCaprio played in the hit film "Catch Me If You Can," now being staged as a musical at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre before heading to Broadway.
Seeking Leonardo DiCaprio-type. Great singing voice, stage presence, acting chops. Teen-idol cute.
A tall order? No sweat. Hire Aaron Tveit, just like the creators of the new 5th Avenue Theatre musical “Catch Me if You Can.”
The fresh-faced, enthusiastic Tveit is no novice, he tells you, in a lively phone chat from his temporary Seattle digs. At 25, he’s already toured (to Seattle and other cities) in “Rent,” filled big roles on Broadway in “Hairspray” and “Wicked,” and hobnobbed with the Manhattan fast set on TV’s “Gossip Girl.”
And there’s the Clarence Derwent award from Actor’s Equity union, among other prizes, for his magnetic turn as the son of a mentally ill mother in the Broadway production “Next to Normal.”
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Reared in upstate New York, Tveit (pronounced ta-VATE) was more into sports and music than acting during high school. But by his late teens, he was scoring so many plum theater roles, he dropped out of Ithaca College to act full time.
“There’s nothing more rewarding than being a stage actor,” he says. “The visceral experience of being before an audience? You can never replace that.”
It took three auditions over several years for Tveit to win the lead part of Frank Abagnale Jr.(played by DiCaprio in the Steven Spielberg film “Catch Me if You Can”). Posing as a doctor, an airline pilot, a lawyer, Abagnale was a real-life, teenage con man who cashed millions of dollars in phony checks before being arrested by the FBI. (In the musical, Tony-winner Norbert Leo Butz plays the agent who nabs him.)
Tveit met the real Abagnale, now a security consultant, and describes him as “a brilliant, charismatic character who just radiates all this confidence.”
In the show, “Frank leaves home at 17, with nothing. But he has this grandiose aspect, and knows how to scheme and work things. He realizes what he’s doing is wrong, but people believe in him, and he got caught up in it all and can’t stop. I understand how that can happen.”
After the 5th Avenue run, Tveit returns to the cast of “Next to Normal,” with “Catch Me If You Can” going on hiatus. But he hopes to hook up with it again as the show moves toward Broadway.
“This isn’t going to be your typical musical of a movie,” Tveit promises. “It’s going to be cutting-edge. We’re stretching the boundaries of storytelling, and I love that.”
Misha Berson: firstname.lastname@example.org