Aaron Tveit knows the hard work it takes to get on stage and make a performance.
He’s done it on Broadway since his debut in 2006.
Yet, the Tony Award nominee found himself in uncharted territory when he joined the cast for “Schmigadoon!”
The six-part series is a parody of iconic musicals that stars Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key as a couple on a backpacking trip designed to reinvigorate their relationship when they discover a magical town in which everyone is living in a studio musical from the 1940s. They then discover that they can’t leave until they find “true love.”
The cast also includes Jaime Camil, Fred Armisen, Kristin Chenoweth, Dove Cameron, Ariana DeBose, Jane Krakowski, Alan Cumming and Ann Harada. The six-episode series premieres on Friday, July 16, on Apple TV+.
“We were all together, I think to do the finale, but we had a day before that we were in preproduction where the whole cast got together,” he says. “We read through the entire six episodes in an afternoon. That was spectacular because without that you wouldn’t have gotten to even see what other people were doing. The fact that we had that experience together really set the bar high. I left there thinking, ‘Oh wow, I thought I was prepared. But I need to be matched to the level that everyone is bringing to this.'”
In the series, Tveit plays Danny Bailey, who is the town outcast. He works for the carnival and keeps to himself much of the time until he meets Strong’s character, Melissa.
The series pays homage to legendary musicals such as “Carousel,” which Tveit is a fan.
“I get to live out all of my ‘Carousel’ Billy Bigelow dreams as Danny Bailey,” he says. “There are all these influences. This is a character that I’ve always wanted to play, so it was a big thrill for me.”
The challenge for Tveit was the dancing needed for the role. The series was choreographed by Christopher Gattelli.
“He spent a lot of time with me one on one,” he says. “He really had specific references to this Gene Kelly-type song and dance man. He wanted Danny to kind of embody him. Danny is a rough and tumble guy, but then, can break into song and dance, which I think is also interesting. The dance element was the one thing that I found myself really drilling and practicing. I wanted to make sure that I was totally ready for that when I stepped foot on set. Worrying about the steps helped me not worry too much about the singing.”
Tveit has been performing all his life on stage and screen. He appeared in “Moulin Rouge!” and is the only actor nominated for a Tony Award for best actor this year.
With “Schmigadoon!,” he hopes that viewers will enjoy the feel and tone of the show.
With in-person performances not happening for more than a year, he hopes there is joy to be found within the series.
“It’s about celebrating life,” he says. “After the difficult 15 months or so that we’ve had, I hope that the joy comes through that we had making it. I hope it travels across the screen into people’s living rooms.”
Tveit says there is also some real messaging from all of the characters.
“There are these very one-dimensional kind of old musical theater tropes,” he says. “But they are changed by these two contemporary people that they meet and change for the better. The show has representation and inclusion.”
Tveit is no stranger to New Mexico as he has toured here with Broadway shows and filmed the movie “Big Sky” in the area in 2015.
“I love New Mexico and hope to make it back there one day,” he says.