Review: Aaron Tveit at The Barns at Wolf Trap

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Aaron Tveit returns to his Broadway roots on Saturday evening during his debut at the Wolf Trap. Tveit (Next to Normal, Grease Live!) has not performed on a Broadway stage since his 2011 starring role as the charming con-artist Frank Abagnale Jr. in Catch Me If You Can but remains one of Broadway’s sweethearts, with fans constantly asking when he’ll return to the Great White Way. Last night’s performance offered fans a reminder of why they love Tveit on the stage.

Aaron Tveit. Photo courtesy of The Barns at Wolf Trap.

The staging was simple: a piano, a microphone stand, and a stool. The intimate setting of The Barns at Wolf Trap, a cozy renovated barn with impeccable acoustics, is the perfect setting for Tveit’s polished voice. Brian Perry is a masterful accompanist on the piano and also provides occasional backup vocals.

The house and stage lights go dark as the piano strikes up a tune. Tveit’s voice fills the auditorium as he croons the first few bars of his opening song before the lights come back up.

He sings “The Streets of Dublin” from A Man of No Importance before launching into “Fight the Dragons” from Big Fish, after which he shares an endearing story of how he was a blubbering mess at the end of the musical in front of a first date. He portrayed two different takes on a man finding himself in love with “Love, I Hear” from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and “Proud Lady” from The Baker’s Wife.

The show took a lighter turn with an entertaining Disney medley (or as Tveit dubs it, “Disney Schizophrenia”) with an eclectic assortment of songs from classic Disney movies. It started with “When You Wish Upon a Star” from Pinocchio and leads into “Belle” from Beauty and the Beast before going back to “I’ve Got No Strings” from Pinocchio and “Cruella de Vil” from 101 Dalmatians and ending with Beauty and the Beast’s “Gaston.” By the way, if you ever wondered if Aaron Tveit could sound like the boyish squeaky-voiced cartoon Pinocchio (which to be honest, I don’t know why you would have), his impression was dead on.

The Disney theme continued with a soulful medley that included “Proud of Your Boy” from Aladdin, “Go the Distance” from Hercules,” and “Out There” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Aaron Tveit, Photo courtesy of The Barns at Wolf Trap.

Perhaps the most memorable part of the night began when Tveit acknowledged that he should probably sing something from Les Miserables. This was met with roaring cheers from the crowd to which Tveit responded with “Why are you guys reacting that way?,” acting as if he was oblivious to the fact that he played the role of revolutionary Enjolras in the Oscar-winning film adaptation. He wrote off singing any Enjolras songs, instead opting for “Bring Him Home” and “I Dream a Dream,” where he comically pretends to struggle with the high notes and switches keys and octaves multiple times. In the end, he engages the audience in a singalong rendition of “Do You Hear the People Sing?” – well, except for the Enjolras parts – he made sure he was the only one singing those parts.

Tveit next paid homage to Sondheim again with “Finishing the Hat” from Sunday in the Park with George and brought so much emotion to the song that it makes you wonder when he’s going be cast as George in a musical revival. He channels both the puppy dog lovesickness of a teenage boy and the swagger of Danny Zuko with “Sandy,” which he performed on Fox’s Grease Live!. The night ends with “Marry Me A Little” from Company, (another Sondheim musical) followed by an encore performance of Jason Robert Brown’s “It All Fades Away” from Bridges of Madison County.

No matter your preference of musical theater shows, this concert had something for everyone. Whereas many of Tveit’s recent concerts have been in the style of pop cabarets, this show brought it back to Broadway where fans first fell in love with this talented performer.

Running Time: Approximately one hour, with no intermission.

Aaron Tveit performs again tonight, Sunday, January 22, 2017 at 7 PM at The Barns at Wolf Trap – 1635 Wolf Trap Road in Vienna, VA. For tickets, call 1-877-WOLFTRAP (1-877-965-3872), or purchase them online.

See Aaron Tveit perform “Popular” from Wicked: