I am an usher at several Columbus, Ohio, theaters. I am one of those people wearing black pants, jacket, white shirt and name badge. Many of us are past our prime. In other words, we’re elderly; maybe, it’s because we have the time to spare. Occasionally, young people on a budget usher too. I wish I would’ve started earlier because there are many cultural and artistic events occurring in Columbus, Ohio.
The theaters are beautiful: The Ohio Theater, The Palace, The Southern, The Lincoln, and The newer Riffe Center. Someone, I don’t know who, had the foresight not to demolish these grand old theaters. I’m grateful that they are still standing, and most have been beautifully refurbished. There are amazing chandeliers, wall decorations, velvety curtains, big stages, and cushy seats.
Many times, I will watch the show sitting in the last row of the upper balcony because ushers aren’t permitted to sit in front of paying patrons. I have stood up in the back of the theater while watching “The Lion King”, Le Miz” and “Phantom of the Opera.” I love the arts, and am in good health so I don’t mind. The voices and dancing of the Broadway series is astounding.
Once in a while if attendance is down, I’ll get a nice seat on the main floor. I also have the option of standing in the back of the main floor. Ushers also can choose to sit in the lobby, and watch the performance on a big TV. I would rather stand because there is nothing like watching a live performance.
Earning a free performance and parking
Getting to the theater and parking before the performance is one of the first requirements. Often, that is an hour and a half before the show. There is a meeting before the show, so you can know how long it runs, when you let it late patrons, if beverages and candy are allowed, etc.
Being an usher is fun and good exercise, and I do get to talk to many people. If there is a hot act or play, I quickly walk up and down the rows to seat people. There is a captain to direct us –whether to seat people on the right or the left. I do appreciate this, since it saves time.
I have done concessions, selling candy, drinks, etc, but that is not my first choice. There is not much time to get people fed and watered, before the show, and at intermission If you like being on the edge, and handling money, you might enjoy this. It does go very fast.
I like to see people’s faces before they are attending an event. They look excited because they know they are about to be entertained. Also, some people get dressed up for certain events, and that’s fun. It’s enjoyable to be part of someone’s special experience.
One of the major questions asked by patrons is: Where is the bathroom? It might not seem like an important questions, but it is!
I know I’m getting older when I’ve never heard of the act that is performing. I signed up to usher at Gabriel Inglesias performance because I figured he was Enrique Inglesias’s brother. He was pretty funny, and his humor was clean. (However, the guys before him were funny, but a little more risqué.) If I stay the whole time, I know it’s pretty good, and I did. I try to be open and nonjudgmental.
Dressing up for the theater: Not so much in the 21st Century
I do miss the days when people really looked nice for certain events. A few people will still dress up, but it’s mostly nice casual, and sometimes just ordinary casual. I get really excited when I see an attractive couple dressed up for each other. It happens every once in a while.
When they have “The Nutcracker” at Christmas time, the moms dress their little girls up like dolls. It’s absolutely adorable: little dresses with fancy ballet skirts, or just princess type dresses, patent leather shoes and little crowns they buy at the Nutcracker concessions. If there are little boys, they’re dressed up in nice pants and shirts. Truthfully, the princes are really outnumbered by the princesses. Once in a while you’ll see a brave dad accompanying the ladies.
I’ve also gotten to see other performances of Columbus Balletmet which is fantastic. I would’ve never known I would enjoy ballet if I hadn’t seen performances after ushering. If you get a chance, go see them perform. They are first-class, innovative, creative and entertaining. I really enjoyed their version of “Dracula.”
There are many first-class children’s performances too: Children’s Hospital Pleasure Guild, Children’s Theater, etc. I think there are a lot of opportunities to watch the arts that people are unaware of, and I don’t think they’re that expensive.
Sometimes, I feel like I’d rather be in the audience, but you can’t have everything. I’ve seen a lot of things I wouldn’t ordinarily see, so it’s a good way to get out of the house. When I do buy a ticket to something I do feel like a queen when I am seated by the ushers.
The Columbus Symphony is also terrific. Last night, they had a woman conductor, something you don’t see every day. They played some Beethoven and it really touched my emotions.
If you’re thinking of signing up for ushering, don’t hesitate. It’s not everyone, but it is for me.