Tag Archives: James Oban

“Ushers: The Front of House Musical” at The Other Palace

Director Max Reynolds has a great venue for his tenth anniversary revival of this funny show. With the scenario taking us behind the scenes of a fictional West End hit, downstairs at The Other Palace has a clubby feel that’s perfect for a piece full of insider jokes sure to appeal to a theatre crowd.

We see the romances and dreams of strong characters as they work with confectionary and merchandise, answering the same questions repeatedly, and clean up the audience mess. Two struggle with their relationship, another two fall in love, and a fifth is a fangirl searching for the leading man of her dreams (look out Michael Ball). It’s all tongue in cheek, and sweet, with neat roles for Bethany Amber Perrins (pictured top), Luke Bayer, Christopher Foley, Cleve September and Danielle Rose.

Daniel Page in "Ushers" at The Other Palace
Daniel Page

This is a strong cast, it’s great to have the chance to see them up close, and they all have strong voices and excellent comedy skills. Credit to Reynolds for getting the most out of them and the material. But the star of the show is Daniel Page who brings his pantomime skills to the role of villainous theatre manager Robin. He’s the one behind all the upselling, robbing the punters you might say, obsessed with sales figures and spend per head. It’s a joy to see a performer having so much fun in a role, making every line work and getting so many laughs.

In truth, the cast are funnier than the jokes. In particular, Amber Perrins makes the cooky Rosie hilarious when the character could be annoying. And the singing is better than the songs. While the music by Yiannis Koutsakos is solid enough, his lyrics (also credited to James Oban and James Rottger) are clumsy. Rottger’s book is strangely loose given how clear the structure is. These are problems. But what’s going on has such charm, they matter less than usual.

For full disclosure, I’ve worked front of house myself. I suspect many in the audience, let alone the cast and creatives here, have too. There’s a lot that is recognizable although, cleverly, the show is harsher about the theatre owners than it is about the public (it could be a lot meaner). But all the industry jokes and contemporary references are a hoot. While the show might not have the widest appeal, it knows its audience and serves its customers well. Don’t just see it once, go twice. And buy a t-shirt.

Until 19 May 2024