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Ushers - musical review


With The Other Palace Theatre claiming to devote itself to fresh and upcoming theatre, Ushers: The Front Of House Musical seems a fantastic fit to be currently staged in the studio, despite it being ten years since its premiere. The intimate space lends itself to engagement for even the smallest of shows and clearly demonstrates that forte once again. Discovering the aspirations of the unsung interval heroes, this parody piece follows the work of the mechanics behind the industry, despite being at the forefront of it all.

Following a shift during the launch of an original jukebox musical, the team are tasked with 'sell, sell sell', in a bid to make as much profit from the overpriced ice creams, programmes, and merchandise as possible. Pedalling the force for the tyrannical big boss, Robin Pocketts (played by Daniel Page), conflicted lovers, Ben and Gary - Luke Bayer and Cleve September respectively - act in tandem with Rosie (Bethany Amber-Perrins) and Stephen (Christopher Foley) to give an insight into the highs, lows, and everything in between, of the job. Newcomer Lucy, played by Danielle Rose, is thrown straight into the midst of things without the ability to question, as the night gets swiftly underway.

From the get-go, flurries of witty references are woven in, to guarantee laughs from anyone dubbed a theatre fan. While some are more niche or undercover, giving the joy of understanding an 'inside joke' with the cast, there are plenty that convey relevance to the general atmosphere and knowledge of productions, thus giving something for everyone. As many of these are contemporary, a couple even being news items from within the last week, Ushers uses a formula that allows for reconstruction at any given time to make it perfectly relevant whenever produced, therefore a truly timelessly crafted production.

However, it is key to approach the performance with the comedic value that is ultimately its defining factor. In terms of a storyline, there are no real complexities, and depth is lacking: but it's not supposed to be one for contemplation. The cast provides highly exuberant characterisation, with their infectious energy feeding the humour, particularly through the roles of Rosie and Robin. Bethany Amber-Perrins presents unreplicable quirkiness that becomes oddly addictive with her unpredictability; Daniel Page's depiction is one of passion, amusing while assisting in highlighting the issues with the management and conditions of the staff that deserve better treatment. In all, the casting is great, with each personality bringing a different dynamic to the compact spacing, alongside Max Reynolds' direction. While the stage is a tad too small for any major choreography- which could be expanded at another venue- a score by Yiannis Koutsakos and James Oban thrives with the upbeat tracks of enthusiasm, but, even with their messages and strong vocals all round, the softer tracks break the flow a little, since their correspondence with emotional connection and poignancy goes amiss.

In summary, Ushers: The Front Of House Musical is a hilariously fun joy to witness. Despite a couple of tiny pitfalls to enhance and elevate its theatrical weight, it excels as a comedy production about the essence of working as a small cog in a big industry. Thank you to all the wonderful staff actually in the job who endure everything to give us the best experience possible (while depleting us of money, though we know that isn't your fault!).


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