What do you expect from a Front of House team?

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LondonTheatreUK
Stand-by
joined:8/18/05
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What do you expect from a Front of House team (ushers/house managers etc.) in a theatre? In terms of what you expect to be provided for you, quality of service - what makes you think "They were very nice and helpful!" and what makes you think "Gah, where do they GET these people?" etc.

Interested to hear thoughts as some people's theatrical experiences do not seem to be affected by FOH staff as much as others. The good and the bad please!
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WhoPaintedTheKitten?
Understudy
joined:8/6/06
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I work front of house- apart from ripping tickets, I get asked the same questions again and again:
"where are these seats please?"(even if its obvious)
"wheres the gents?"
"wheres the ladies?"
"wheres the bar?"
"what time does the show end?"
"how much for a programme?" etc etc

I'd imagine people expect us to be smiley as well as able to answer all their questions...
"...if you rearrange the letters in the word unemployed, it spells OPPORTUNITY!" - Gary Coleman, Ave. Q
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Mark_E
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joined:1/26/06
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When I was in London the Ushers and FOH staff were great. I must say I like it when they seem to be interested in the show that they are working for, which they all did.
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WhoPaintedTheKitten?
Understudy
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Understudy
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which shows did you see? Ave Q??
"...if you rearrange the letters in the word unemployed, it spells OPPORTUNITY!" - Gary Coleman, Ave. Q
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Mark_E
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Yeah I saw Avenue Q (Twice), Wicked, Mary Poppins and WWRY.
Incognito
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"I work front of house- apart from ripping tickets, I get asked the same questions again and again:
"where are these seats please?"(even if its obvious)
"wheres the gents?"
"wheres the ladies?"
"wheres the bar?"
"what time does the show end?"
"how much for a programme?" etc etc

I'd imagine people expect us to be smiley as well as able to answer all their questions..."


I thought this reply was precious. To be able to answer these questions each time as if they are the first time, must be an art form in and of itself. Keep practising.
Life is...just a bowl of cherries...
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Weez
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joined:9/16/05
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The same thing I expect from anyone in a customer service industry. Politeness, friendliness, a smile even though a smile may be the last thing on earth they want to be doing, the ability to answer any questions I may have willingly and - in the case of really stupid questions - without making me feel like an idiot, and visibility, so I can find 'em if and when I need 'em.
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Im_a_QT
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joined:12/24/06
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I work in customer service and I know exactly what you mean by answering the same questions everyday as if it was the first time.
When I'm seeing a show though it's quite the opposite - I always get very friendly FOH staff who want to give me directions but they end up slowing me down as I know exactly where I'm going! (especially when I go see the same shows over and over again!)

I have to say, one thing I found really unpleasant was a member of staff at the Wicked box office. My mom was coming to visit for the weekend and she had expressed an interest in Wicked, it was still quite early in the run and the show was guaranteed to be sold out on a Saturday night but I thought it was worth a try anyway. The man at the box office looked at me and said "madam, on a Saturday night?" making me feel quite stupid for even asking. Now I know exactly what he meant, but as far as he knew it was my first time there and I might have never even tried to book a theatre ticket before! This is the only unpleasant experience as far as I can remember though. Although I have avoided going to his till again everytime I have bought Wicked tickets after that!
DeathStar
Broadway Star
joined:3/28/06
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In a previous life I used to be a Duty Manager and the first thing I think people need FOH is Dignity. Lose that you lose the game!

So dignity followed by alertness, pride in what they are doing and openess.

Sadly all of these are missing from most theatres.
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WhoPaintedTheKitten?
Understudy
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I've been working FOH for too long to have pride in my job! I'm actually becoming rather embarrassed!
"...if you rearrange the letters in the word unemployed, it spells OPPORTUNITY!" - Gary Coleman, Ave. Q
Bruce Memblagh!
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Featured Actor
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Simple politeness and the ability to realise they are there to help the "customer", regardless of how obtuse some customers can be.

Most I have met are wonderful but the crabby ones really need to get out and do a job where they do not need to work with people.
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rohingit
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"Simple politeness and the ability to realise they are there to help the "customer", regardless of how obtuse some customers can be.

Most I have met are wonderful but the crabby ones really need to get out and do a job where they do not need to work with people."

I work foh and i have to say i do really enjoy my job, but you do get some people come to watch the show and they will be the rudest people on earth to you for no apparent reason, im sure all of you who have worked or work foh have experianced the person who looks at you as if you know nothing and are the lowest of the low. If you get someone like this its nearly impossableto be charming and happy to the next person as it has offended you. or the even more annoying ones who stop you to ask a question.....then walk off when you try to answer
......Customer "excuse me where are the loos?"
Usher "If you just go up..."
Coustomer walks off
Usher " ok well have fun wetting yourself in front
of everyone!"
Sorry its just the most annoying part of it. If the coustomer doesnt treet you with an ounce of respect, then its very diff to help them with a smile, no usher is paid enough to warrent being treeted like crap for resons that are not there fult! not saying this is always the caseim sure there are some bad ushers out there, but i just felt like having a bit of a rant. lol
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turquoisefish
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I have worked in customer service for about 7 years and often get the same questions over and over.
One thing i have noticed about the Ushers (especially at Wicked) is them being a bit over zealous[sp?] for cameras. When i was at Wicked the Usher literally ran past to stop someone who had a camera, it was very distracting for me. Also when i sat in the Circle another time the ushers didn't seem to stop walking around, i would expect them to stand at the back or side during the performance.
I have never had a problem with the service i receive though, always friendly. Keep up the good work
DeathStar
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You come very close to defending people who take photo's in the theatre... I very much hope you aren't.
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dramaparoxysm23
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How does one go about applying for an usher/FOH position?
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
I remember days
Or at least I try
But as years go by
They're sort of haze
And the bluest ink
Isn't really sky
And at times I think
I would gladly die
For a day of sky

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
And Starbucks will use the words 'large' and 'small', not pretentious crap like grande and tall.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
"You could get away with anything if you call it art and tell people who don't like it that it's cutting edge culture." --vmlinnie
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Bruce Memblagh!
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Talking about overzealous ushers, what is with them forcing drink bottles and beer etc at the audience at interval. Hollering them for sale as if we HAVE to buy them and as if WE, the audience, are doing them a favour??

Does anyone ever buy drinks and snacks from a theatre anymore? Total rip off at those prices - I always bring my own in. On more than one occasion I have popped out at interval and brought in an icecream from a shop nearby - at under half the price, a bigger ice cream and nicer!
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WhoPaintedTheKitten?
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I agree the price of drinks etc IS expensive. Ice creams are 3!! Outrageous! At my theatre we push the sale of programmes more- we have to, we get commission for everything we sell!
"...if you rearrange the letters in the word unemployed, it spells OPPORTUNITY!" - Gary Coleman, Ave. Q
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Mark_E
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"I agree the price of drinks etc IS expensive. Ice creams are 3!! Outrageous! At my theatre we push the sale of programmes more- we have to, we get commission for everything we sell!"

Thats pretty cool. I never knew you earned comission (and although it may be a low % i would think alot of people buy programs).

I spent 19 on brochures on my half term trip to london (3 at Mary Poppins,WWRY and Q and 5 at wicked) and i bought the 5 one at Q aswell. I spent 14 on an Avenue Q t-shirt aswell.
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rohingit
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dramaparoxysm23 if you want to aply for foh job you need to hand a cv in to stage door or post it addressed to the house manager then its a waiting game, more ofen or not though you wont hear anything back from them.
at my place we are not aloud to push people for programs and ices, we just stand at specific desks and sell to people who come up to us.
Prices in the west end are really bad at times, i spent 13.50 at Guys and Dolls on the two different programs...was outragous...but then this fool still payed it!
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turquoisefish
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@DeathStar
I am not defending taking pictures of the show but i do not feel that the usher had to run down the aisle to stop someone, it would have been much less distracting if they had walked past. As i say when i sat in the Circle the staff walking around was quite distracting, perhaps i get distracted too easily.
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West End Whinger
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Like airline cabin crew, they are there principally for your safety and to sell you very ordinary things at vastly over-inflated prices.
West End Whingers
Now get me a drink.
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Im_a_QT
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I know what you mean turquoisefish - for me, Idina Menzel's last Defying Gravity was spoilt by an usher in my peripheral vision trying to confiscate a camera from someone. I understand they have to do it - but it's unfair to do it at the expense of someone who is watching the show and trying to enjoy it 'the legal way'. :/
Also, being mere seconds from the end of Act One - they could have waited I think.
Immortal Longings
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Being welcoming, polite, helpful, not rude etc etc.

Last year was my first year working FOH in London theatre and it's made me very aware of how other people do the job that I do.

Basically, I'd like to be treated the way I treat people when I serve them at my theatre. Yes sometimes smiling and being polite is hard especially when you've been asked for the 1000th time where the toilets are, but it's all part of the presentation. A good FOH experience can enhance an evening for some theatregoers.

I've only ever encountered unpleasant FOH staff at one theatre...and they've been moaned about enough in the past so I won't name names, but it does make you feel a bit crap if the first impression of the theatre you get is a bad one.

I'm going to stop babbling now...
DeathStar
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I agree with you on that point - was just being anoying...

The ATG ushers at Guys and Dolls ruined the show. They talked through out. They walked all round the auditorium. Pushed past the audience. They opened and let doors slam shut.

But this is the same in any ATG theatre I have been to. All ATG theatres are very very very poor for FOH staff. They want your money, but couldn't bring themselves to give a toss if you aren't happy, are over charged, pay too much for goods that are clearly worth less and have your night ruined by their badly trained staff.
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WhoPaintedTheKitten?
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Hey Deathstar- I worked FOH for ATG for nearly 3 years- there isn't really any training, thats why they are run so badly! My friend got me my first FOH job at Trafalgar Studios (which was just Whitehall Theatre back then)- my interview was something like this:
"do you have common sense?"
"yes"
"you've got the job"

Which ATG theatres have you been to?

Yes the company are crap, I still know tons of people who still work for them, and they agree- all ATG think about is money.

Saying that though, I did have a LOT of fun working for them and made loads of wonderful friends.
I'm working for DMT now- the people are not as cool but the theatres are more professionally run.
"...if you rearrange the letters in the word unemployed, it spells OPPORTUNITY!" - Gary Coleman, Ave. Q