Welcome to the Forums!  Please post an introduction after signing up!

For an updated map of Ren Fests check out The Ren List at!

The Chat server is now running again, just select chat on the menu!

Main Menu

Looking for PA performers for a permanant year round gig...

Started by Leonardo, July 25, 2014, 02:29:36 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


Hello everyone, I hope this is the right area.

I am opening a Renaissance themed restaurant in the Eastern/Central PA area called Leonardo's.  Here's the building it will be in!

The venue will be a restaurant set in the Italian Renaissaince era, and I of course will be the host-  Leonardo da Vinci (think a younger Leonardo, more like Da Vinci's Demon's age).
Anyway I digressed...  We are in need of performers! 

Once or twice a week we will have a diner theater show.  The skits will be the typical type of singing and comedy acts that you see at a Renn Faire.  During the week it will be a restaurant, but still with a renaissance flair.  Performers will also be part of the staff, so there will be waiting on tables and things like that.  Everyone will be dressed in period clothing.  On non show nights performers will sing and do comedy skits whenever they can, those nights will be more of a freestyle open format- meaning when everyone is served, as a performer you can do whatever part of your act you want... mainly I want to hear everyone laughing and having a good time- and that includes the staff and not just the patrons :)

As I mentioned this is a year round gig, so I am looking for mostly permanent positions, but I can work around schedules if someone is a performer at a local Renn Faire.  I am on track to start serving meals early 2015.  The reason I am looking for staff now is because we need to order and fit costumes and start rehearsing for opening night.

Oh I almost forgot to mention...  everyone that comes onboard will participate in profit sharing! 

If anyone is interested let me know and I can give more details


Best of luck to you Master Leonardo. Pray tell, in what city is the restaurant located?
"It is only with the heart that one sees rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye."
   Antoine de St. Exupery


Mt. Carmel PA

If you are familiar with the area, it is only 10-15 minutes from Kneobles!

It is also about 5 miles west of Centralia PA, that's the place that the Silent Hill horror flicks was based on :)


Here is a shot from the balcony overlooking the main floor where the restaurant and performances will be

I also have a full theater stage in the basement to do other acts and venues!

Those lights are around 25' in the air!  The ceiling is 50' at the peak.


That looks awesome! I wish I wasn't moving so much farther away! I'm going from 6 hour drive to 22. :-\


Finding performers is turning out to be way more difficult than I thought it would be. 



Thanks Stuben.

I hope I can find some performers though or it's going to end up being just a restaurant, and that's not what I want.


You can always be a restaurant with the occasional special event. The restaurant business is tough and even tougher being a themed restaurant. Might want to start looking at nearby colleges and schools drama departments. Print up flyers and start dropping them off around campuses. You definitely will need to be proactive on getting staff and patrons due to your location. Maybe think of remodeling as a King Author/Henry bed and breakfast. Look up the local SCA and LARP groups. It's a good chance they will already have costumes and personalities. Or just be a restaurant and let the staff be whatever character they want to be from the past during the week and have themed weekends. Due to your location you will need to broaden your customer target group or draw people from a large area/distance. or both.


Your place has been on my mind since I seen it. My first thought was the basement would be a great location for a recovery house. You could leave it as an open squad bay type area or partition off bunk rooms, and have the common area in the middle. They can either pay for the room and board with rent or by working a pre agreed to amount of hours in the restaurant. Its a win/win. They end up long term renters and possibly employees, or they move on with skills and work history to help better themselves.


I agree it can be a tough business, but then again any small business is tough to get off the ground and takes a lot of hard work.  The real reason most places that do fail is because they did not do enough planning.

Trust me... I did my research and planning!  I have demographics for not only the immediate town but for a 20 mile radius.  I also have financials for all the restaurants in the area, so I know who is who and how much they are bringing in. 

A lot of people have said 'start small and add the performers later'.  It really isn't going to add that much cost to the budget, and food really isn't the draw for a restaurant.  Most have great food (those that don't usually aren't in business for long), so if the food is great for say a dozen places, what really brings people in is the atmosphere.  Like I said, people expect the food to be fantastic, and as I said if it isn't then it won't matter how fancy the place is... it won't be in business long... so it is a combination of great food and a unique atmosphere. 

The next town over has a college with a theater major, so yeah we thought of them.  Also there are some acting troupes in the nearby areas, but I need regular performers.

I have thought about a lot of uses for the basement, but honestly I never thought of a recovery house and I am not sure I like that.  I just think it would tie up the 4K+ sqft down there and I can make lots of money just with the venues already planned.  :)


Quote from: Stuben on August 01, 2014, 06:45:30 PMDue to your location you will need to broaden your customer target group or draw people from a large area/distance. or both.
Not sure where you are from, but this is actually a great location for many reasons.  Within a 20 mile radius the population count is 227,000.  That won't sound like much to people in a city, but for a rural state like PA it is pretty dense.  Plus it is 10 minutes from the interstate.  The Bloomsburg fair brings in a half a million people to the area, and Mt. Carmel is just 15 minutes from a very popular amusement park in PA. 

Then throw in that the local high school football team is the winningest team in the state, and 5th winningest in the country, the town is always packed during football season.  It may look like a small town, but the traffic volume through town is incredibly high.  This is the view as you come in town-

Those green cupula's on the castle looking towers is my building!  It is the first thing that draws your eye when you come to town!

And yes I totally agree about broadening my target patrons, hence the Renaissance theme! ;)
There are several SCA groups in this area of PA and then  of course the PARF down in Lancaster county.  My thoughts are that once I get my performers and get listed in the Renn Fair directory listings that I am open year round, when people get a craving for a Renn Fair atmosphere but the season is over, or the weather is bad, or it is just plain too far to drive to the PARF, I can bring them in.

Back to performers though, we are also going to have conventional diner theater shows, such as the traditional murder mystery diner theater show, and comedy acts. 
Yes it will be a ton of work, but hey... where else can you work where you can dress in medieval garb every day!  That alone will be worth all the hard work... to me at least!

A bit of a teaser...  I am meeting with one of the main acts at the PARF to negotiate a salary to get them as regular performers at Leonardo's during the fair's off season.  :)

We're also going to do wedding receptions.  I do love your B&B idea!  Once we move out we can convert the living quarters into some rooms, and there are 'secret rooms' in the bell towers above the balcony!  If you are ever in the area come check us out!  Just ask for me and tell me you're Stuben and the meal is on me :)


It's great to see you did your research and planning  :) I've known many who have started businesses and ended up losing everything within 2 years because of lack of planning. When people love doing something they think they will automatically be successful as a business and don't do the proper planning and budgeting before hand. I look forward to coming up on your opening weekend.



Stuben the numbers are rock solid. 
I don't want to scare any performers away by them thinking this isn't going to work.

There is no venue like this anywhere in the area.  It will be like Jekyll & Hyde's down in NYC... good food with an incredible atmosphere.  Also there is nothing like it up here either.  No night clubs or fun places to go for the younger crowd either.   And then there is the regional Renn Faire and SCA groups... 

I don't think there will be a problem bringing people in :)

Rani Zemirah

When you say that the performers will also need to be staff and servers, I'm thinking that may be a sticking point for a lot of professional performers.  Performing, in itself, is a very demanding and often exhausting profession, but trying to also keep up with a restaurant full of hungry, and frequently demanding, patrons while also remembering lines, cues and lyrics is likely to be more than a great many performers are willing to take on.  You haven't mentioned whether you are offering them performers wages or servers wages, either... which will be another serious consideration for them.  Also, most serious Ren Faire performers travel a circuit, and are generally on the road several months out of the year, instead of only performing for a few weeks at whatever Faire is near their home base.  The wages on offer would have to be enough to convince them to give that up and stay in one place... and become waiters.  I'm not sure that drama students would be able to commit the kind of time needed for that kind of job, either, with classes and studying being their main priority, and any job they take really just a means of earning some extra cash to supplement their student loans each semester, and not anything they would be able to take on full time.  It does sound like a dilemma, most definitely. 
Rani - Fire Goddess

Aut disce... aut discede


It definitely will not be typical server wages and as mentioned they will also get profit sharing.

I just interviewed one performer (outside the Renn Fair circuit), this on here was just casting the net out to see if there is anything out there...


I think maybe people are misunderstanding the concept and venue...

There will be regular wait staff as well as performers.  Twice a week we will have a diner theater show, very similar to the show in Shakespeare's down in Orlando.  A major difference though is Shakespeare's is/was only open two nights a week and they only did the diner show.  Leonardo's will be open all week and on non-show nights it will be a renaissance themed restaurant; meaning there won't be a structured show but everyone will still be in costume and character.  During lulls, the performers will do impromptu skits and short songs, not really much different than those restaurants that take the entire wait staff and send them to a table to sing Happy Birthday or do something that isn't 'wait related'.  Basically my staff needs to have a banter and be able to interact and sling jokes back and forth as well as the occasional song.  Show nights will be a completely different structure with a set meal served in courses during the show.

So yes, there would be times that performers would have to wait on tables and do light wait duties. 
I totally understand that there are performers that travel the Renn Faire circuit, and I wouldn't expect anyone that does that to be interested in a gig at my place.  However there are some performers that don't travel and may only do one or two faires a year.  Or perhaps someone that is simply tired of traveling.  So no, I never expected to get a headline act that is currently traveling the circuit,  although I dare say my pay just might be more than the average performer gets on the road... plus they get tips and profit sharing.

Although I would love to have a main act, and once I get rolling I will, whether it be a group that comes in or a home grown act, I guess I am looking more for locals that would love to be in a Renn Faire, but have no intentions of traveling.  There are lots of people that love to go to Renn Faires- just look at the PARF, they had over 200,000 people attend last year.  I am sure some of those people can sing and tell jokes... maybe even juggle! 

BTW, I have done some stage work myself so yes I understand the demands of doing a performance and I am taking all of that into consideration. 

Just so everyone knows what type of compensation we are talking about, my budget is currently set at performers being paid $10 an hour and that includes non-show nights.  Meaning they get $10 an hour whether it is show night or not.  In addition to that, when they do wait tables, they also get tips.  And all staff will get quarterly profit sharing bonuses... so the better Leonardo's does, the bigger the bonus check is. 


Here is our Cast of Characters that we are currently taking applications/auditions for:

a. 'The Girls' aka the Whimsical Wenches:
Affectionately referred to as 'The Girls' by management and staff, they will consist of 3-5 staff/performers who will serve the patrons while interacting with them and each other with witty banter and tantalizing tales. On non-show nights 'the Girls' will do impromptu skits and improv comedy by interacting with each other and the patrons. As time permits they will even sing some of their songs and ditties.

b. 'The Guys' aka the : Swashbuckling Scallywags
Basically the male staff/performer version of 'The Girls'. The guys are comprised of 3-5 performers, which will include Leonardo and Chaucer as part of the group. Occasionally Merlin may join in.

c. Merlin the Magician
Merlin is a bit of an oddity. His character predates the renaissance period by several hundred years so the obvious question is how and why is he here? It seems Merlin was experimenting with a new concoction, but also not paying as much attention to things as he should have been.  He mistakenly drinks the half made potion instead of his usual morning tea... and he hasn't been quite the same since! He then inadvertently casts a spell that transports him and a few others to the Renaissance era where he meets up with Leonardo.

Merlin's character will interact with the patrons and other performers and provide laughs through his bumbling ineptness. None of his magic spells seem to work 'quite right' anymore as he tries to figure out how to reverse the effects of his half made concoction.

d. King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

Yes that King Arthur and THOSE Knights! The Monty Python versions of course.

Arthur and his band of eccentric Knights will show up periodically for some 'silly' fun... but not too silly!

e. The Hecklers-
Think Statler and Waldorf from the Muppet Show, but younger and Scottish. This duo's sole purpose in life is to raise hell and get laughs from everyone. They will also be part of the Scallywags.

f. Chaucer-
Geoffrey Chaucer himself is the host of the Pub! Think Paul Bettany from A Knight's Tale. Chaucer will entertain with his witty prose and eloquent stories... that is when he's not busy serving up pints or rolling the dice!

g. Katherine de' Medici (Position filled/unavailable)-
That's Katherine with a 'K' not the 'other' Catherine! Katherine is the Hostess of Mona Lisa's and niece of Lorenzo de' Medici, aka Lorenzo the Magnificent, Governor and ruler of Florence. Basically Lorenzo and the Medici's are the resident royalty.

Katherine will host Mona Lisa's Café, and will also entertain at night by performing in skits with the rest of the crew.

h. Lorenzo de' Medici-
aka Lorenzo the Magnificent. Lorenzo and his family will make appearances during the weekly dinner theater shows as well as during special events and occasions.

i. Leonardo (Position filled/unavailable)-
The host of all this is the one and only Leonardo da Vinci himself! Leonardo will be the host and MC, and try his best to keep this group of playful misfits and devilish rouges in some sort of control... which rarely seems to work!

During the dinner theater shows Leonardo will introduce the acts and weave things together for a night of fun and laughter.

Merlin the Elder

If I lived in the area, I could play myself. Since I do not, be sure you get a suave and dashing person to play me. I do not wish to be misrepresented.   ;D
Living life in the slow lane
ROoL #116; the Jack of Daniels; AARP #7; SS# 000-00-0013
I've upped my standards. Now, up yours.
...and may all your babies be born naked...


I just did a preliminary interview with a gentleman to be the lead of the Scallywags. 

And he looks suave and dashing enough to play you Merlin ;)

Merlin the Elder

Quote from: Leonardo on December 20, 2014, 12:47:37 AM
I just did a preliminary interview with a gentleman to be the lead of the Scallywags. 

And he looks suave and dashing enough to play you Merlin ;)
Living life in the slow lane
ROoL #116; the Jack of Daniels; AARP #7; SS# 000-00-0013
I've upped my standards. Now, up yours.
...and may all your babies be born naked...


Well Merlin, he was dashing enough to play you... but holy cow... what a Diva!  Needless to say he didn't work out.  He threw a tantrum because he sent me an email on December 23rd and I didn't get back to him until after the holiday!

Oh well... better to see his true colors now than after he was hired right?

On the plus side, since then I have had multiple applications for performers and as of now I have 3 that are officially part of the family :)

Merlin the Elder

Living life in the slow lane
ROoL #116; the Jack of Daniels; AARP #7; SS# 000-00-0013
I've upped my standards. Now, up yours.
...and may all your babies be born naked...