As soon as we knew we’d be opening a LEON on Shaftesbury Avenue, in London’s West End, we knew we had to do something really special. We knew we wanted to be a good neighbour, and help spread the magic of theatre with our naturally fast jazz hands.
So, with eight weeks to go, we decided to create an all-singing LEON restaurant. We set off on a mission to find 40 stars of tomorrow, who could prepare and serve naturally fast food and then grab the mic and perform a show tune. Hidden talent who we could give a stage to, to help them get noticed and follow their dreams.
Helen George (Call The Midwife, Strictly Come Dancing) and Xander Armstrong (Pointless) came on board with their expertise, joining our judging panel for Round Two.
Helen George said, “Working in LEON in the West End will be hard but fantastic too. The team will get to do what they want to do, every day of the week. But they’ll have to balance keeping customers happy while hitting those top notes. My first job was as a singing waiter, so I know just how they feel. Looking through the audition list brought all the fear and excitement back to me. I wish them all the best of luck.”
And Alexander Armstrong said, “I adore the West End! I just love acting, singing and dancing, so I can understand why so many young people turned up to audition today. It’s clear just how much they want it, how much they want to perform. And hopefully working at LEON will be the first step towards a career in the industry. I hope they make it as much fun as they possibly can.”
In week three of auditions, we were joined by Jay Aston (Bucks Fizz) and Anna Shaffer (Hollyoaks/Harry Potter).
And we have found incredible people with incredible voices to be our stars.
We have designed their stage – the restaurant. We have a Wall of Family for our cast members. We have Katie Derham’s Strictly Come Dancing dress. We have a stalls section, a royal box dumb waiter, and a dressing room loo of lights and mirrors.
And we have thrown our opening party to show a sneak preview before the curtain is raised. Each of our cast performed their favourite tune, Anton du Beke & Lance Ellington gave us a song and dance, and Jamelia got on stage with John for Journey Don’t Stop Believing.
Now we’re just getting ready for showtime on Monday.
We can’t wait to see you there, come and give us a listen.