I’d Like To Know: Aaron Khaled

From Angel in RENT to Jonathan in La Cage Aux Folles, Aaron Khaled has made a splash in Singapore’s musical theatre scene. Find out more about his backstage rituals, his favourite makan place and his perfect day out.

Do you have a ritual as a performer?

I try to take a moment and just warm up on my own, before the entire cast comes together. It helps me to get into my own headspace, where I can think about what I’m going to do on stage and how I’m going to make it a better show than the one before.

My routine can change for different shows – last year, I played Angel in Pangdemonium’s RENT, and had to do a couple of really crazy jumps in super high heels. So I would put on the heels every day before each show and walk around backstage, up and down the long corridor, just to get comfortable in them.

What keeps you up at night?

Thinking about what I’m going to do next – in a performer’s life, you never know what’s your next role or your next challenge. Oh, and horror movies!

You’re throwing a dinner party for five guests – dead or alive, real or fictional. Whom would you invite?

Michelle Obama, because she’s the queen of the world. Wendy Williams – I’ve always enjoyed her perspective on pop culture. Lady Gaga, who I think is fascinating. Colleen Ballinger would be great – she’s so funny in her YouTube superstar persona, Miranda Sings. I’d also like to meet Mahatma Gandhi and find out more about his life, his spiritual side and his philosophy.

What’s one of your pet peeves?

People chewing with their mouths open!

If you were entertaining a visitor from overseas, what’s the one place in Singapore you’d take them to?

I’d bring them to Springleaf Prata Place in the Siglap area. Tabitha Nauser recommended it to me. It’s a great mamak food place and serves excellent fusion food. Like a pizza murtabak, with cheese and toppings! It’s really good. I always want to go and eat at Springleaf!

What’s one thing you’ve done in the past year that you’ve never done before?

I made a big change this year – since January, I’ve given up eating meat almost entirely. It’s strange, because I used to love chicken. No meal would be a meal without chicken. But, for some reason, I started to gravitate more towards the vegetables I love, like brinjal and okra and tofu. Progressively, I started to eat less meat. I’m enjoying the freedom of making conscious choices about what I consume every day. I’m not saying I won’t eat meat ever again. But, for now, being vegetarian works for me!

Aaron with future co-star Ivan Heng in 2012,
right after he learned he had been cast in La Cage!

Tell us about the theatrical experience that changed your life.

Two instances come to mind. I studied voice for two years at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, and theatre wasn’t on my mind at all. When I returned to KL in 2010, I started performing in bars. Nick Choo saw me sing and asked me to be part of his original musical, Follow The Light. That’s the show that got me my start in musical theatre.

The second theatrical experience that changed my life is actually W!LD RICE’s 2012 production of La Cage Aux Folles. It was my Singapore debut. When I came to Singapore, I realised I wanted to stay here. I’ve been a permanent resident for the past three years. It’s nice to return this year to La Cage, a show that literally changed my life – I’m looking forward to exploring different aspects of my character, Jonathan, that I didn’t catch the first time around.

If you could import something that you can’t get in Singapore, what would it be?

Mountains! I love hiking – exploring trails and nature. Hiking in Singapore weather won’t be too fun, so I’d also import my favourite type of weather: the Perpetual English Gloom! My perfect day would be a little rainy, with no sun at all – cool enough to wear a light jacket. Hiking on a day like that would be the best ever!

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