What It's Like to Go on a Date With Grease: Live's Aaron Tveit

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It’s been a full calendar year since Fox first announced that it would air a live musical version of Grease, and the big night is finally almost here. For the last several months, the cast—which includes Julianne Hough, Aaron Tveit, Vanessa Hudgens, Carly Rae Jepsen, Carlos PenaVega, Keke Palmer, Kether Donohue, and many more—have been rehearsing around the clock to bring the memorable musical to life this Sunday night.

With crunch time upon them, you’d expect the cast to be all nerves—but on a recent visit to the set, it was clear they have this under control. During a short break from rehearsing “Summer Nights” in the Rydell auditorium, Danny Zuko himself (that would be Aaron Tveit) walked over to introduce himself. “I noticed you across the way and figured since we’re going on a date later, I should come say hi,” greeted the charming Broadway vet. Usually, the setting for our On a Date column is at a trendy restaurant (or sometimes even an actor’s trailer), but this time it was at a more appropriate location: the Frosty Palace.

Actual food isn’t allowed on the set, but the prop managers decorated a corner booth with plastic cheeseburgers, fries, sundaes, and milkshakes for us—and they even gave Tveit real money to “pay” for the end of the date. And so, over the next hour, we chatted about career milestones, seducing Julianne Hough, relationships, and how he’ll be spending the hours leading up to Grease: Live.


Glamour: We’re sitting at the Frosty Palace with plastic burgers, fries, and milkshakes. Is this where you take all of your dates?
Aaron Tveit: You know, if we had sock hops and malt shops today, I would definitely take dates there! How fun would that be? I’m surprised there’s not really many of those—or even a bar that’s a throwback sock-hop diner. Someone reading this should fix that.
Glamour: So where would you take a date before or after a Broadway musical?
Aaron: There’s one called Vice Versa, and that’s a really nice, beautiful restaurant. If you really want to make a special night of it, there’s Le Bernardin. It’s Eric Ripert’s restaurant and one of the number one rated restaurants in New York City. But that’s like high high!
Glamour: Great, so on our next date we will go there!
Aaron: Yes, we’ll go to Le Bernardin! [Laughs]

Glamour: How did Grease: Live come about?
Aaron: A little over a year ago, I was in London doing a play, and the casting director [for Grease: Live] asked if I’d be interested in doing a work session with Tommy Kail, the director, and Mark Platt, the producer. Mark oversees Wicked—I did Wicked years ago—so I was really excited it was Fox doing it, Tommy was directing, and also that Julianne was attached.

Glamour: You and Julianne had to do a chemistry test together before you were cast. What was that like?
Aaron: The funny thing about chemistry is that you either have it or you don’t. She was doing chemistry reads with three or four different guys, and they rolled ’em in one after the other. There was a moment in the diner scene where I go up to her at the juke box, and I haven’t seen her since the confrontation at the pep rally. Tommy gave me a note and had us go again [in the scene], and I did something where I just went over and stood next to her and didn’t say anything. I kind of mocked her body position, and she just looked at me and started laughing. We had to start the scene over. But that’s the kind of thing that you hope you have happen because that’s a moment in life. Especially in a chemistry test—that’s what they want to see. I don’t know if that’s ultimately what it was, but that’s when it settled for me that I felt [good].


Glamour: You didn’t dye your hair jet black for the role. Were you worried the producers might make you?
Aaron: A little bit! I didn’t know what they were going to do. It’s such an iconic thing, and I heard that the whole black hair thing was all Travolta’s idea. I think it was a nod to Elvis. I was a little worried about the jet black. If [the producers] would have said it, I would have asked them to do a temporary wash. It actually came up in my first costume fitting with William Ivey Long, who I’ve done three shows with. His thing was that my Danny was not the Elvis Danny Zuko, but the James Dean Danny. I have the same hair color, so we’re going that way a little bit. He fought that fight for me.

Glamour: Julianne met Olivia Newton-John for the first time at Dancing With the Stars last season. Have you gotten to talk to John Travolta?
Aaron: I haven’t. I have not met him during this process, but actually in 2013 at the Oscars when we did our whole Les Mis performance, he announced our whole musical section. And he said my name correctly! [Laughs] We met in the rehearsal process, and he couldn’t have been nicer.