Saturday, July 13

Ushers: The Front of House Musical – The Other Palace

A new musical housed in The Other Palace, Ushers: The Front of House Musical. We are introduced to the characters who make the theatre run. A newcomer Lucy (Danielle Rose) starts her shift, disrupting the well working machine to try and slot herself in this odd little family. As the evening runs, backstage dramas unfold between relationships, Gary (Cleve September) finally landed a role and is moving to Austria for the year while his boyfriend Luke Bauer (Ben) stays here, still front of house. Rosie (Bethany Amber Perrins), a very funny but creepy TikTok fanatic obsessed with leading men is preyed upon by the failed Opera star ‘Manager’ Robin (Daniel Page) desperate for a raise, money and the little power that comes from overworking your equals. Lucy gets to know this team over the evening whilst also yearns to know more about Stephen (Christopher Foley) the still fresh dreamer wanting to make it big. This show’s goal is to shower praise on the working staff who haven’t yet made it but still continue to dream as their job takes every inch of energy and inspiration from them. Many puns and nods towards big west end productions and everything musical theatre, we have a parody for our backstage warriors.

This is the tenth anniversary for this production, the script has been revised to our current day but in some ways the script feels outdated and lacking in stakes. Although I care for the characters, I find their reactions to be really ‘dramatic’- perhaps the point? In drawing out these conflicts over an hour and a half, I thought some of the drama resolved in only a few minutes as if the last half an hour never needed to happen. I think the character’s conflicts are genuine and deserve more time or depth rather than creating an easy to solve problem. Of course, the show promises a happy ending however, I left in a conflict myself of wanting juicier stories for these people, to give them more complications so I really am routing for them rather than feeling indifferent to how their personal lives are going. Of course, this show is a parody mostly, so do I really need to care? No, however the times when I have been working in hospitality I came home with some crazy stories- are these people really that basic?

The songs are short, to the point and complete the character’s thought process neatly. Following classic story archetypes, there is a song for everyone- budding romance, heartbreak, loss of self and evil mastermind seeking revenge. I’d like to note that the actors really portrayed their stories so beautifully and their talent is undeniable. Although it is a squeeze, their use of space with choreography is very skilled and wonderfully entertaining. I didn’t leave holding onto any tunes of the show, I thought the music was rather generic and revealed little about the inner workings of each person- again, I understand its purpose being a parody for the late night, slightly tipsy to go enjoy however I yearned for a little more to grab onto and hold me hoping on their success.

The twist was a little bit of an eye roll, particularly as it includes a man the theatre industry now severely dislikes. The likelihood of anyone helping a person related to this man seems untruthful particularly because everyone hates a nepo baby. However, we find resolve quickly and easily with the underdogs overthrowing the cruel manager and the hero nepo baby finds Rosie a promotion and the others an agent. Hoorayyy. How this might champion our front of house hospitality dreamers, I’m not quite sure. In fact, as someone in hospitality, I’m now waiting for a nepo baby to come save me from my job too? Is that how it works?

Although, as much as I found issue with the resolve, the cast do possess a lot of talent, so the joy of the evening is seeing these performers flex their muscles. Director Max Reynolds has given us an opportunity to meet our ‘Usher’s’ and champion their talent, although leaving slightly uninspired and not as hopeful for them, it is a nice parody for those who enjoy musical theatre.

Playing until 19th May,

Reviewer: Alice Rose

Reviewed:17th April 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.