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Reviews: Live Shows

Wed 21 May, 2014
By Robert Ingham

If you are lover of musicals then you will certainly appreciate the huge number of in-jokes

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Opening in the gorgeous Charing Cross Theatre is ‘Ushers’, the Front of House musical, where the stars of the show are not in the show, but those who man the tills and sell ice-creams and programmes.

Set in front of the scenes of ‘Oops I Did It Again – The Britney Spears Musical’, it is a very funny and sometimes moving story of love, lust and broken dreams. The ushers are all aspiring actors, waiting for the next audition to come along, and are just passing the time before the next big role comes to whisk them into the limelight. It is new girl, Carly’s first day, and she is being shown the ropes by the other four ushers, all under the watchful eye of their mean manager, frustrated Opera singer Robin Pockets, who takes glee at putting his staff down whilst trying to gain as much profit as he can for the company, Theatre Nation.

Gary and Ben are having relationship problems, Stephen doesn’t know what he wants, and Rosie just wants to take selfies and sleep with Michael Ball.

And that is the premise of the show. From the opening number ‘Welcome’, you are hit with waves of high energy, and the six strong cast put their all into the show. It is rather infectious and you can’t help but smile. If you are lover of musicals then you will certainly appreciate the huge number of in-jokes peppering the script, and there is a definite nod to many west-end shows such as Cabaret and Chorus Line.

There are some great qualities to ‘Ushers’. The script is perky and races along at a good pace. The cast are all excellent performers and bring their characters to life with great fervour. However, the stand-out performance is from Ceris Hine, who plays Rosie. She has the show-stopping song ‘Leading Men’, a Cabaret/Chicago-esque number about her desire to bed certain cast members. And shows off just how flexible she is. She pulls out every ounce of humour from her character and quickly becomes an audience favourite.

Director Max Reynolds does a grand job, and has some great ideas, though sometimes has to be careful of where he puts his cast as there are several occasions where the actors are side-on to the audience for stretches of dialogue. This is not a serious criticism as the whole show is a lot of fun and these are minor comments.

It would be fair to say this is popcorn theatre. Take your seat, disengage the critical part of your brain, and enjoy it for what it is, an enjoyably piece of theatre fluff with great songs and an easy-going script from James Oban, Yiannis Koutsakos and James Rottger that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and has its tongue firmly in cheek.

‘Ushers’ is on at Charing Cross Theatre, London, until 7th June.


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