Review: USHERS, The Other Palace

A fun and frothy show

By: Apr. 18, 2024
Review: USHERS, The Other Palace
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Review: USHERS, The Other Palace Last seen in London nearly a decade ago, Ushers, the show putting the front of house staff upon the stage is back. A musical with its tongue set firmly in its cheek, this is a fun and frothy production with some very strong and vibrant performances.

A group of ushers, overseen by a lascivious and overly dramatic manager, fall in love, stalk stage stars and sell interval ice creams as they deal with the reality that some of their own stagey ambitions may never become reality.

Cheekily referencing everything from people leaving their rubbish behind to the price of programmes and drinks, Ushers contains no in-depth character arcs and even the end "twist" lacks impact, but this show knowingly pokes fun at both itself and the foibles of the industry. 

What the show lacks in complexity, it more than makes up for with its excellent cast. Relative newcomer Danielle Rose makes a strong impression as Lucy, showcasing a belting voice. She has sweetly awkward chemistry with the slightly self-conscious Stephen, played with natural charisma by Christopher Foley. 

Review: USHERS, The Other Palace
Bethany Amber Perrins

As ditsy theatre superfan Rosie, Bethany Amber Perrins provides a lot of amusement, particularly in her physical comedy. Her Chicago-inspired song "Leading Men" is very well done, particularly where she struggles to get up from the splits.

The stage was not set alight with the attraction between couple Ben (Luke Bayer) and Gary (Cleve September), but Bayer is characteristically engaging and September brings a quiet thoughtfulness to his character. Daniel Page has a ball playing Robin, the slightly creepy, over-the-top manager who laments his own lost operatic career. The ebullient schtick of the character begins to grate a little towards the end, but Page is horribly convincing throughout.

The name-dropping is relentless and there is a plethora of in-jokes, many derived from the cast's own bios. The script has been updated to include clever current references to the industry, such as Tom Francis' Oliviers performance and the early closing of Opening Night. Some of these jokes and asides are genuinely very funny, however, there is a danger that several knowing references will go well over the heads of members of the audiences less dedicated to the industry than those sitting there on press night.

At the same time, it feels as though some of the jokes could be sharper; the fictional show of Love Island The Musical and horror stories about audience behaviour are surely ripe for heavier ribbing .

Yiannis Koutsakos and James Oban provide songs often heavily influenced by other musicals; overall they are relatively unmemorable, but give the cast sufficient opportunities to shine. The opening number "Welcome!", reprised as the act two opener "Welcome Back!", is sharp and funny.

The second act suffers from a bit of drag and the initially amusing infomercial videos on the small screen promoting the theatre group, become fairly annoying. Overall it feels as though a sharper 60 minute, one act show would suit the current material more.

Director Max Reynolds has used as much of the tiny space of The Other Palace as possible, with the performers frequently up and down the aisle, around the front of the stage and even on the balcony. This adds to the intimacy of the show, with some tight choreography from Adam Haigh; executing a tap number in that space deserves much credit.

A knowing show, unafraid to send itself up, Ushers is a very entertaining night out. Just make sure you take your (plastic) glass back to the bar at the end.

Ushers runs at The Other Palace Theatre until 19 May

Photo Credits: Supplied by the production


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