Ushers: The Front of House Musical
The new Hope Theatre stages a new musical dedicated to front-of-house theatre staff
For once, the professionally cheery front of house staff at theatres everywhere are the ones who take to the stage (rather than just longing to) in lively new original musical Ushers.
Unabashedly taking the mick out of audiences and blockbuster theatre production companies alike, it shakes a plastic ice cream spoon at staff gripes from pricey programmes to pervy, power-tripping managers.
A straightforward storyline puts the gay romance between Ben (Liam Ross-Mills) and Gary (Will Jennings) centre stage, with comic relief and twinkly Disney piano trill reserved for the boy meets girl scenario of ushers Stephen (Ross Mcneill) and Lucy (Abigail Carter-Simpson).
Meanwhile their ambitious boss Ralph (a knowingly Machiavellian Ralph Bogard) finds his chance to soar scuppered when he crosses the line – all observed by the ditzy-yet-intense ‘Leading Men'-obsessed blogger Rosie (Chloe Brooks).
There are strong voices all round in this six-hander – thankfully, given the tight confines of the new Hope Theatre – and songwriting team Yiannis Koutsakos and James Oban have created a couple of very catchy numbers.
Simple, uncluttered lyrics ("The key to this job/ is dealing with a snob") generally hit the mark and there's a tidy book from James Rottger.
A bouncy score with the odd appropriate nod to Phantom and A Chorus Line cranks things up from the get-go, the programme-waving "Welcome", and carries on into the second, full-cast satirical tune "Spend Per Head". Later Carter-Simpson's lovely voice lifts "Dreams & Ice-Creams", likewise Ross-Mills' nails it in "Loving You Is All I Know" and emotional goodbye "Let Go".
Backed by the team behind King's Head Theatre just down the road in Islington, Ushers is energetic, G&T-fuelled satire, chock full of in-jokes. It should go down a real treat.