LA CAGE: Actor gets to play Jean-Michel in musical comedy
Aaron Khaled was born for the stage. The 24 year old who shares the same zodiac sign as Datuk Sheila Majid, Aishah, Datuk Siti Nurhaliza, Erra Fazira and Syafinaz, is currently busy preparing for his big role in La Cage, a classic musical comedy.
To be staged at the Esplanade Theatre, Singapore, from July 20 to Aug 4, Aaron will play the role of Jean-Mitchel.
For the uninformed, La Cage is Broadway's famous musical comedy that has won 11 Tony awards.
It was made into a film titled The Birdcage featuring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane.
However, since it is a Singaporean production, La Cage will be given a local flavour.
It tells the story of a glitzy nightclub in Tanjong Pagar where Georges plays host and his longtime partner headlines its world famous cabaret as its diva, Zaza. At a glance, life seems a bed of roses for the couple, but is it?
Boasting an international cast, impressive sets, lavish costumes, snazzy dance routines and heart-warming songs, this musical is a celebration of family and love.
It is understood that the production has sourced actors from around the region and as far as the United Kingdom.
Indeed, Aaron and Tony Eusoff, who plays Aaron's father, are the only two from Malaysia.
The others are from Singapore, Philippines, Hong Kong and Australia.
Ivan Heng, who is famous for his reprisal of Emily in Emily of Emerald Hill, will play Zaza.
With names like Heng and Tony in the fray, things can only get better.
Aaron is understandably excited and honoured.
"Imagine being asked to play a role by Ivan?
"It's crazy, right?
"I feel so lucky and blessed to be working with such big names in the theatre world.
"This is going to be life-changing for me simply because Ivan Heng is known for his great works.
"As far as rehearsals go, I am enjoying myself.
"I am told to drop the accent as Ivan intends to make it as Asian and as Singaporean as possible.
"It needs to be authentic in order to appeal to the local audience."
Aaron's role as Jean-Michel is fun, to say the least.
"As the son, Jean-Mitchel is caught between his parents and his fiancee.
"When he wants to bring his fiancee home, he is worried because his fiancee comes from a family of 'high morals', whereas Jean-Mitchel's parents own a drag club.
"Can you imagine what ensues when their parents meet?
"Jean-Mitchel is embarrassed and wants his dad to 'straighten out'," said Aaron of his role where he is required to sing, dance and act.
An old hand at performing, Aaron did his first television commercial when he was only 5 years old.
At 6, he picked up the violin and a year later, he learnt to play the piano.
The second in a family of three siblings, Aaron and his two sisters have been dabbling in the arts since young.
Now, all of them are pursuing it professionally.
"When we were younger, we used to dance and perform together. My mum owns a ballet dance school, which explains our serious involvement in the business.
"Even though my dad is an engineer, he was the one who took me to my first casting for a TV commercial when suggested by his colleague."
Like his sister, Suhaili Micheline, a finalist of 8TV's first edition of So You Think You Can Dance, who studied in Melbourne, Australia, Aaron, too, studied at the same school as his sister in Melbourne at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School.
Aaron studied there for two years and earned a spot at the Moscow Conservatory of Music in Russia.
While he was honoured to have won a place there, the experience was scary at first.
"I had to learn the language as all our subjects were in Russian.
"To pass the subjects I had to know the language.
"But once you get the hang of it, it is actually quite easy to learn Russian as the language is spelt phonetically.
"Luckily, I had the support of Malaysian medical students there as well.
"I was one of three Malaysians studying music in Russia," recalled Aaron, adding that he can now only speak enough Russian to get by.
Aaron graduated with a BA in Music (performance), majoring in voice at the Australian International Conservatorium of Music in Sydney in 2010.
Since returning to Malaysia, he has been teaching violin, piano and voice to children and adults and has performed several gigs at No Black Tie, Annexe Gallery and Celebrities Club.
But Aaron feels he could do more.
He attended numerous auditions and castings which have since paid off.
Aaron landed a lead role in his first English musical, Follow The Light.
Several more roles fell into his lap and before long, he was featured in more English or English-speaking musicals such as Lat Kampung Boy The Musical, Cabaret and Dreamgirls.
Finally, Aaron got a chance to play a role in his first musical in Malay, The Secret Life of Nora.
What is next?
"I miss being in front of the camera and would like to do more work on television.
"I am willing to audition for drama, anything.
"I don't see a problem for me to switch from theatre to screen.
"I am open to anything."