The Theatre Royal in Plymouth is a clumsy concrete and glass structure which lacks the charm and romance of the more historical theatres such as the Alhambra in Bradford but to be fair it’s played host to a number of excellent touring productions over the years including Wicked, Cats and the Lion King.
On my youngest niece’s birthday we all trooped up to watch “Dirty Dancing” which was also excellent although no one is ever really going to be able to fill the dancing shoes of the late great Patrick “snake hips” Swayze. For me personally Claire Rogers as Penny stole the show as the resident dancer leaving every little girl watching her begging their parents for dance lessons.
Our tickets cost over £40 each and for a party of five it made theatre night an expensive excursion not to mention pre-show meal and drinks. Money well spent if it’s a good show and whilst that certainly applied in this case, some of the theatre ushers were less than courteous. I appreciate that not all customers are sunshine and flowers but is it really necessary to speak to patrons as if they are unruly children. It is not the first time I have attended a show at the Theatre Royal whereby I have felt that some of the ushers were less than civil and it occurs to me in these times of recession that audiences should be encouraged not discouraged by brusque and ill-mannered individuals taking the joy out of an expensive occasion. Whilst we enjoyed the show immensely, what theatre management should remember that they are supposed to be providing a memorable and positive theatre experience for audiences to ensure that in these slow economic times that they keep coming back. Personally I feel quite strongly that surly jobsworths have no business working within the customer service sector so maybe Theatres need as much attention spent in recruiting their in-house teams as they do in marketing their productions.
A few years’ ago I attended a pantomime where the theatre staff were also dressed in costume which not only added to the party atmosphere but made you smile as soon as you stepped into the foyer which I’m sure that many theatre goers like myself remembered for years to come. What a pity that many will go away from the Theatre Royal Plymouth remembering it for all the wrong reasons.