Usher Insights - Julie

"It was chatting to a very enthusiastic usher on a trip to the theatre that made me pursue the idea of joining the theatre team, which I did in the Summer of 2014. I became a volunteer, primarily as an Usher but over the years other roles have evolved.

That first year was about trying new things, being exposed to a whole plethora of different shows and productions, some of which I would never have considered attending. Inevitably after the initial ‘child in a candy shop’ burst, we all develop our favourites, shows we really want to be part of. Many of my peers are first on the list to work at music bands, tributes, singers – the mainstay of the Palace Theatre, along with Panto, another great favourite. For me, top of my list are children’s productions, the New Youth Theatre, drama and one man/woman shows – like Michael Parkinson, David Starkey, Michael Portillo, Dan Snow, Jenni Murray, Pam Ayres to name just a few. My claim to fame was being told off, from the stage, in front of a packed house by Ruby Wax! I wasn’t quick enough with the roving mic. 

Pantomime is Magic time in the theatre. The shows are lots of fun but for me seeing the children and their reactions is the highlight, and the joy of knowing you are participating in what for some is their first theatre experience. Magic. And the lovely casts become family too for those few weeks.

It’s not all glamour. Diving under seats to rescue discarded ice cream cartons, plastic bottles and sweet wrappers after you have all left is the price we pay! And life wouldn’t be life without the occasional grumble, but on the whole people are coming for a good time, to be entertained, and the general mood is happy, often excited, a longed for treat and the promise that the journey home will be on Cloud 9. 

This was to be a golden year for the theatre, celebrating 100 years of being ‘Centre Stage in Newark’. To add to my role, during this past 18 months or so I have been involved in research – delving, sorting, cataloguing  through boxes and boxes of programmes, posters, press pieces from down the century, and meeting people to gather in their memories to add to our 100 years of history. Hopefully the exhibitions planned will only be postponed, we have so much more magic to share with our loyal patrons and visitors.

Best of all, I knew I would ‘meet new people’ - yes, that old cliché! We are supported by a great management team, from duty managers, tech guys, admin, booking desk, catering guys and gals and of course fellow ushers, but what I didn’t bank on was making strong and real friendships which I know will last a lifetime. Life outside the theatre has been enriched because of it.

If 'lockdown' has taught me one thing it is that what really matters is Family and Friends. I now count my theatre friends as part of my extended family. Thank You." - Thank you Julie!