Why Ushering Is One Of The Most Underrated Professions In The Theater

Why Ushering Is One Of The Most Underrated Professions In The Theater

Patrick Connolly

  • OnStage Guest Columnist

We pretty much know the theater world by now. There are actors, comedians, directors, singers, writers, and even those darn awesome theater technicians; you wouldn’t think there’s a single occupation missing in that list.

But there is.

There are these group of workers called Ushers. You’ve probably heard of them. After you get your tickets, the Ushers are the first people who introduce you to the overall theatergoing experience. They are the ones that assure you that the show you are about to see will be the best show possible. Granted, it probably won’t be all the time, but such effort is refreshing in this day and age.

The key word in that last sentence is “effort”—a word that makes all the optimism worth it in the end (Thank you, Doug Walker, for making me learn something). Some would argue that ushering is a very easy position—one that consists of very little effort compared to working as an actor, singer, or director, just to name a few.

Um….yeah. No. Not even close.

Speaking as someone who had (or has, considering I’ll be returning back in the Spring) a position in Ushering back at Rhode Island College, such an argument couldn’t ring more false to me. Yes, there may be some shifts where barely anything happens (gotta love that good ol’ winter weather), but that is balanced with shifts where we usher in about 400 children in one section of the largest auditorium possible. It’s also balanced with shifts where we have to make sure those dance moms get to their children before they go on for the next number. And don’t get me started on how many tickets we have to rip when Kate McKinnon from Saturday Night Live arrives for one hilarious evening.

(Which reminds me, I forgot to get her autograph. Darn it!)

So when I hear people say that ushering is not a “real job”, or how those in that position put little effort into it, I snicker in disagreement. From my perspective, ushering is just as important as any other profession in the theater world, and it deserves to be acknowledged to a degree that acting or directing is.

Oh well. Someday, ushering will get the recognition it deserves. Perhaps they’ll make a musical about it. I’m up for writing one.

(Side-note: It’s been a long time since I’ve been there, so this might come across as dated. But for every show I went to at The Bushnell in Hartford, CT, there were those who ushered for volunteer work instead of getting paid for it. Talk about dedication, if I may say)

 

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