Usher Insights - Anni
"My application form finally made it into the Palace slightly dog-eared, coffee stained and creased after spending at least 18 months in my bag going in and out of town, and that was probably another year after it had been given to me by an insistent friend who had worked at the Palace for a few years, and obviously knew I would love it there too! I had four other jobs at the time I began in 2009, which probably explains why it had taken so long to cram in another one, albeit voluntary; But what better more fun way of unwinding than assisting up to more than 600 cheery people enjoy the show!
One of the earliest comments I heard and still one I hear is 'The Palace is brilliant because they have REAL people'....(not just tributes)! Certainly real alright, as I recall more than one 'star' panicking because they couldn't find their way to the stage or backstage, you'd think after 20, 30, even 40 or more years treading the boards they might have just grasped the whereabouts by now!! Many of the performers love our theatre because it is traditional and virtually unchanged since it was built one hundred years ago, and new visitors often gasp in awe as they walk in to the auditorium. Several directors and producers of shows have actually said that our backstage team are the best and most professional they have ever worked with!
A large moth became the star of the show a few years ago when it appeared, as if on cue, during a play set in charity shop! It was hard to convince some that it wasn't a cast member! The atmosphere is second to none at Panto time, as entire families including relatives from as far as Australia, come together for their annual treat, and the excitement of Pegasus spreading his wings and rearing up to fly in 'Cinderella', never failed to make the entire audience gasp in amazement and utter awe (and dare I admit to thinking there was a actual horse on stage the first time I saw it!).
When the heating packed in one freezing winter, Kate Rusby appeared wearing her coat, diplomatically pointing out that she always feels the cold and it wasn't the theatre, honest! A few days later a group of 'Railways Remembered' regulars mentioned the chilly air, I feigned surprise as surely they were used to being a bit cold as they train spotted on the end of platforms in all weathers? They all laughed and admitted it was true! They never take off their padded anoraks anyway, even in a heatwave!!
Actually it is the audience who really make the show, we always look forward to seeing familiar faces and having a catch-up, and new visitors often remark that we are the friendliest of ushers, it follows through though as all the staff, front of house, box office, backstage, bar, cleaning staff, absolutely everybody gets on well together (a shared passion perhaps!). It's also because we have the best and friendliest audiences.
No place would be normal though without it's odd grump or drunk, everyone is here to enjoy the show and occasionally one or two have enjoyed the bar facilities a little beforehand: A rather jolly bunch kept dancing in the boxes during one show to the distress of the band's soundsman beneath, we had to keep asking if they could either remain seated, or at least to dance at the rear of the box to prevent any calamities, the manager of the evening had a bit of an altercation eventually and we were a little concerned that things might get out of hand...we need not have worried though, as the show ended and people were leaving, the drunks all wobbled over in great spirits and gave me huge hugs and apologized for being a pain, and thanked us all for being so caring!!
I can't wait for the Palace to reopen!"
- Thank you Anni!