Robert Tanitch reviews Ushers at Charing Cross Theatre, London WC2
Backstage musicals are two a penny. A front of house musical is something new. Pity, it isn’t any good.
The ushers that show you to your seats are actually actors in the show. Theatre ushers in real life are usually out-of-work actors. Many of them will have spent three years at drama school and most of them will never appear on a professional stage.
There are just too many actors. 2,500 actors are entering the industry every year. Some, if they are lucky, might get an un-paid role in a production on the fringe. Most of them will give up after two years.
Ushers, which is billed as The Front of House Musical, began on the fringe in a 50-seater space above a pub in Islington. It transferred to the Charing Cross Theatre as a late-night show at 10.15. It is now playing in the same theatre at the more reasonable hour for those who have to work next day at 8.00 PM
The cast includes five ushers and their manager. The latter is an unpleasant, creepy bully, a failed opera singer, and acted as the hammy pantomime villain he is. Two of the ushers are gay and about to part company because one of them has landed an acting job in Austria.
There is the occasional amusing barbed in-theatre joke; but the book is poor and the show itself and the performances that go with it are inconsistent and heavy-handed.