Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at a top West End musical? ‘Ushers’ gives us an insight into the lives and troubles of five ushers, all struggling actors, and one sleazy boss, a failed opera singer, as they try to get ahead in life and keep their jobs. Filled with gags – “You’re about as passionate for the theatre as a Tory arts minister” – and squashed ambitions, this is the perfectly pitched piece to hardcore musical theatre fans.
Yiannis Koutsakos and James Oban have written some good music and lyrics with a few stand out numbers for the small cast to perform. The show is set in London’s ‘largest’ capacity theatre, just before the preview of a brand new jukebox musical. The venue is owned by Andrew Lloyd Macintosser’s ‘Theatre Nation’, a company which aims to make theatre – better! Throughout the show, instructions and information of his company pop up on screen giving us a rest from the live action. This was the weakest element of the show, as when doing things like this in musical theatre it can feel like cheating to kill time. It’s not great fun to watch a TV screen when you are at a live show.
Regardless of that, there were some fantastic performances from all the cast, especially the extremely comic and saucy ‘Theatre Ninja’, played by Alexandra Parkes. She had this critic in stitches all night long with her comic fan-girl-obsessive-stalker-usherette. There was some very accomplished singing and dancing though from the rest of the cast, made up of Ben Fenner, Rory Maguire, Cameron Sharp, Harry Stone and Corrine Preist. They all brought a huge amount of energy to this delightfully entertaining production from the word go. In fact we should say from before the word go, as it was them seating us, as real front of house ushers, when we entered the theatre.
Although this show didn’t really delve into anything too deep, it is sure to entertain you and leave you smiling as you leave the theatre. Great effort and energy from all, and some great set pieces and dancing to end the show.
Highlight of the show – Theatre Ninja’s solo number raising the roof – and the temperature – of the delightful Arts Theatre.
Running until the 18th October at The Arts Theatre on Great Newport Street.