To make it within the arts, you have to have the passion and the determination to succeed. The industry is incredibly competitive, and what can often be glossed over are the countless amount of auditions attended to gain that lucky break. Performer Aaron Rahn is currently embarking on this journey, and is also adding a touch of the West End at Leon-a restaurant embracing the arts and bringing a slice of theatre to the dining experience. Aaron talks about his time at Leon, his inspirations as a performer and offers very useful advice.
You currently work at the West End branch of Leon which is known for waiters/waitresses singing well known musical songs during intervals. What are your thoughts on the concept?
I think it is a great idea to do. I’m surprised another company hasn’t done it before. I had heard about Ellen’s Stardust Diner in New York which is what Leon West End is based on and one day I wish to visit. Leon are so behind us and taking care of our every needs regarding our singing health and making the singing as easy as possible for us, they have even hired a specialist singing team so we can book in and have singing lessons for FREE. As a performer this is amazing as singing lessons are just one of the many extra costs we have to pay for on top of dance classes, gym memberships and sheet music! Obviously it’s a new concept for Leon itself and they are always wanting our input on what could be better and what does and doesn’t work and they are listening to every issue raised and are behind us, the whole team are excellent and it’s all just so much fun.
Can you talk us through a typical day at Leon?
A typical middle shift at Leon I’d arrive and say hello to everyone as that is our way of signing in, giving a big hello. I’d then pop down to the team room where I would put my shirt on (it has my name embroidered on it courtesy of Leon) and then my apron. Then I start the standard Leon work on whichever section I’m in for like Tills, Kitchen or potentially Hosting. While doing my duties I’m given a couple of minutes warning saying I’m next to sing where I would then have those few minutes to prepare myself, grab some water, do a few scales etc. I’ll tell the person introducing me what I’m singing and then cue up my song and get in position to sing to the customers or as we say singing for our sunshine pot. Once I have finished my song I go back to carry on my usual Leon duties hoping that someone will put some tips in the Tip Tophat that helps us towards all the dance classes we have to pay for on top of the usual adult stuff like rent and bills.
What’s your favourite song to sing and why?
Neverland – Finding Neverland. It’s such a storytelling ballad that I connect with as it’s about being free and adventurous which is me all over and is a love song and who doesn’t love a love song? My favourite line from the song is “a future of happiness all in your hands” as it’s so true; everyone has so much more potential than they think, it’s all about believing in yourself.
What inspired you to become a performer?
My friends actually told me to come to a Pantomime audition; of course I did, what did I have to loose? I was 15 and I turned up at the Princess Theatre in Torquay, Devon with no prior dance ability but because of my height I had to join the Senior dancers while my friends got to audition with the Babes. There I am stood on this stage in my cargo shorts, my DC clumpy trainers and a baggy t-shirt while the guys standing next to me were in their fitted jazz trousers and trainers and their vests. I lasted about 10 minutes before I ran off stage and out stage door and got my mum to pick me up. That’s when I told my mum I wanted to start dance classes and that weekend someone came over to drop over a information pack of a dance school called Totnes School of Dance where I ended up training in all styles of dance and being pushed and pushed and I wouldn’t be where I am today without all the teachers there. I trained there until the age of 18 where I then moved to London to study a BA (Hons) in Musical Theatre at Bird College.When I look back at my training it’s incredible how much I feel I have imporoved and it is all down to hard work and sore bodied dedication.
How have you prepared yourself for a career within the arts?
I have only been out in the industry for just under a year so I’m still very green when it comes to experiencing the arts industry. Since I left Bird I have been lucky enough to work a few jobs within the arts such as Eurobeat: Moldova (Pleasance Grand, Edinburgh Fringe), Jack and the Beanstalk (Norwich, Theatre Royal) and I am currently in the production of Geronimo Stilton where I’m getting the chance to visit Hong Kong and Singapore. In each of these jobs I have learnt so much which my training at Bird couldn’t prepare me for. The training at Bird gave me so much discipline and strong foundations across the whole Musical Theatre spectrum but there’s only so much you can learn. Somethings I believe can only be learnt by experiencing them. In just the short time I’ve been out in the industry it is tough as your constantly having to work numerous jobs in order to pay the bills but then also be flexible enough to go to auditions it’s all hard work and without my diary I would defiantly be a complete mess…being organised is key.
What have responses been towards your performances at Leon?
My performances at Leon have been great and I have had some great feedback from people on social media and in person. For example I was down stairs in the Potwash…glamorous I know… and it was my turn to sing. I choose to sing Neverland – Finding Neverland my favourite song. It was a late evening about 9.30-10pm and there were a group of Italian tourists sat having some food and watching me sing. After I finished singing I said thank you and headed back down to carry on in Potwash. Just as I’m getting stuck in, Salvatore the manager on duty came down to get me to say some people want to see me. It was the group of Italian tourists. They wanted to say thank you and wanted take photos with me as a memory of the lovely time visiting London and stumbling across Leon West End. It makes you feel joy and warm when you get this feedback; it really means a lot to me.
Could you describe the Leon experience in 3 words?
Anticipation ,Vibrant, Exciting
What advice would you give to aspiring performers?
I’m not going to beat around the bush but it is a hard industry that requires a lot of dedication and hard work. You need to have a thick skin and take everything with a pinch of salt and keep positive I think. Being positive is a key thing in life and especially in this industry. You will get many nos but that’s not a bad thing; it’s all about what you have learnt from that audition or casting. Every audition and casting is one step closer to your dream. Sometimes it could take years, sometimes days to reach your goal but it’s all about experiencing the journey. There will be ups and downs but without the arts I wouldn’t be who I am today. So my words of wisdom would be to be prepared to put 100% in and nothing less. If you put 95% in there is always someone else still going at 100% and you want to be the best you that you can be. Find your limits and exceed them.
Questions by Lucy Basaba.
Check out Aaron Rahn’s spotlight page here…
To find out more about Leon, visit here…
To be in with a chance to win a pair of Leon vouchers and tickets to a show, visit here…