THEATRE REVIEW: Ushers at the Arts Theatre

WORTH A LOOK?: ***1/2

WHEN: 2/10 runs to 18/10

Looking for something truthful, utterly of the West End yet edgy, heartfelt and celebratory? Look no further than Ushers – the front of house musical.

Have you ever wondered what the hopes, dreams and aspirations are of the front of house staff making your West End theatre trip all you wish it could be? Ushers, music by Yiannis Koutsakos, lyrics by James Oban, and a book by James Rottger, is about the lives and loves of the stagiest people you could ever wish to meet.

SPOILER ALERT: we had no idea we were bothering who would prove to be our favourite character about the price of a show CD before the performance (Alexandra Parkes, we salute you, not least for your scene-stealing splits early on). Alexandra plays Rosie, the Cumberbitch and more supple Baby Spice lookylikey whose over-friendly BFF-ness and enthusiasm for leading men boss the early part of this show.

We loved Harry Stone’s camper-than-Kenny-Everett boss with opera ambitions – but hated him also like the true panto villain he was born to be. The story, such as it is, centres on the five-strong front of house staff: how they came to be there, where they want to go and how they might get there. We have two romances – one gay, one straight – one blossoming, one faltering.

It’s full of West End in-jokes but its heart and humour transcend W1. If we had one criticism it is that the music is not as playful, inventive and joyous as the lyrics. We also weren’t too keen on the surprise plot reveal three-quarters of the way through but, really, this is such an unexpected delight, it’s definitely worth standing in line for.

  • We followed Ushers on Twitter at @UshersMusical and the code for top-priced matinee tickets for £10 this week was ‘STAGEYMAT’. Follow @UshersMusical for new codes.
  • Thanks to Harry Stone for his Twitter response to this review (below):

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