Theatre review: Ushers: The Front of House Musical at Charing Cross Theatre
Yianniss Koutsakos,James Oban and James Rottger have written the ideal show for this ex music hall venue.
Beginning at 10.30 it is the perfect companion to the earlier show ‘Lost Boy’ so one could spend a whole evening at this comfortable small theatre.
Past ushers themselves, the writers of this show first put on their show in the Hope Theatre in Islington – a venue devoted to brand new work and run by the highly successful TheatreUpClose company.
Since then, ‘Ushers’ has been extended, virtually recast and re-choreographed. Theatre goers may be unaware of the fact that the charming people who show them to their seats, sell ice cream and programmes are often actors between jobs. In this guise, the cast are able to mingle with the audience from the beginning leading to a cracking opening number bidding them welcome.
At the centre of this piece is a slender poignant story of two young lovers Gary and Ben who are torn apart by the exigencies of the careers. Gary has turned down a job to be with Ben and Ben accepted a year in Austria. This creates conflict and things are not as peaceful as they should be behind the scenes at front of house.
Ralph Bogard gives a wonderful over-the-top performance as the bullying house manager who couldn’t hack it as an opera singer and is taking out his frustrations on his captive staff. He also gives regular video appearances on How To Make Theatre Better which basically means – How to extract more money out of the customers.
Lucy is a new girl who has to learn the ropes. She is befriended by Rosie, a ditsy stalker of Leading men who has a wonderful quirky comedy sense and Stephen a handsome young actor who she has seen as Joseph in a touring production of Dreamcoat.
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The songs are slightly derivative with gleeful tongue in cheek references to ‘Oliver’ , ‘Cabaret’ and even ‘Zorba the Greek’ hidden there somewhere and there is a lovely serious number ‘Loving You is all I know’ sung by the two boys.
Perfect late night fare. The sparkiest show in town.
Until April 19