BRING YOUR FLASHLIGHT! No flashlights will be provided for you!
This is a very important assignment. Your primary responsibility is to help patrons find their seats, so be assertive and ask if they need help. Don’t wait for them to ask you.
Do not permit patrons to enter the theatre until you have received permission from a House Manager and the doors have been unlocked. This is extremely important. Generally, the house opens 30 minutes before curtain. In almost all cases the artist(s) has control of when the doors can be opened. That explanation can be used if patrons get restless.
Once the doors are unlocked, prop open all outer doors with the door stops provided.
As patrons enter the theatre, greet them with a smile, hand out programs and ask if they need help finding their seats. If they do, show them the proper row and explain that seat numbers are on the front edge of seats. Use good judgment. Ask to see as many tickets as you can, and check to see if patrons are in the right place.
Generally, you should stand inside the theatre just inside the inner doors. Sometimes the House Manager is able to assign two ushers to a door. If so, one may stand outside and hand out programs and the other stands inside and helps with seating (take turns if you wish).
If you have a seating conflict:
- Be courteous and calm
- Solve the problem if you can
- First check the ticket to make sure they are at the right performance
- Make sure they are on the right level
- If it’s a duplicate ticket, allow the patrons already seated to remain there, and ask the other patrons to stand in the aisle. Then find a House Manager on your level to handle the problem
Remember that the more tickets you check and the more patrons you seat, the fewer seating problems you’ll have.
Items Not Permitted Inside the Theatre
- Food or drink
- Recording Devices
- Cellular phones (unless they are turned off)
Pagers that vibrate are acceptable. If you see a patron with anything listed above ask them to check it at the Information Center free of charge. If they have food or drink, ask them to finish it outside in the lobby or offer to throw it away for them. It is difficult to see all cameras since many of them are small and can fit inside a purse. Do the best you can. If cameras are used during a performance, try to spot where the patron is sitting and either retrieve the camera yourself or find the House Manager in your area to retrieve it.
Patrons with Special Needs
Patrons in wheelchairs: If you need to review where the wheelchair access seats are, ask one of the House Managers. If they know ahead of time, House Managers will have already prepared the seating area for wheelchair access.
If a patron asks for your help with a hearing device that isn’t working properly, you or the House Manager in your area should take the device to the Listening Device stand next to Fuldner Lounge for an exchange. The patron should not have to do this.
Once the Show Begins
When the house lights dim and the performance begins, you may then close the inner doors. You must remain standing inside by the inner doors for the first 15 minutes of the performance to assist latecomers. If the outer doors must be shut for a particular performance and there are two ushers at the door, one should remain by the outer doors so they won't make noise while shutting. The inner doors are quiet, but the outer doors do slam shut sometimes.
The only exception to standing inside the theatre at the beginning of a performance is if there is a structured seating hold. Then, you would stand outside the outer doors to make sure no patrons enter the theatre until a House Manger tells you the seating hold is over. You should assist patrons to their seats at that point, using good judgment about when to actually let them sit. If they have seats toward the end of a row, seat them right away. If they have seats toward the middle of a row, you might ask them to wait until a song or dance is completed before seating them.
You are on duty the entire show, including intermission. If you must leave briefly, be sure to ask another usher in your area to temporarily cover your position.
After the first 15 minutes of the performance, you may take an aisle seat if there is one available. Most doors have additional chairs placed inside the inner doors. Position your chair so you can see the majority of patrons in your area in case they need help leaving or reentering the theatre. Mezzanine and Petite balcony ushers may sit in an empty aisle seat if one is available. If not, you may sit on the stairs as long as you do not block access to the exits or cause a hazard to patrons leaving and reentering.
Other off duty ushers may not sit on the stairs. If they block access to exits, whether sitting or standing, you have permission to ask them to move.
During a performance your main responsibility is to be aware if a patron is leaving or reentering the theatre, not to watch the performance. Do not assume a patron will be okay without your help. If someone rises to leave, immediately get up and go to that row to assist them. If someone leaves the theatre, you should wait by the inner doors for them to return to avoid disturbing the other patrons.
The flashlight beam is extremely bright and will shine nearly all the way across an aisle. Obviously, this will be very distracting to patrons unless done properly. Always keep the beam pointed toward the floor so the person leaving or reentering can see other patrons' feet.
If you use your flashlight to check tickets for latecomers, turn away from the audience and point the beam down on the ticket, shielding the beam as much as possible with your hand.
When the lights go up for intermission (and only then), prop open the doors. Opening them too soon can ruin the mood for the performance and can also distract patrons seated near the door.
During intermission, remain by the outer doors so you can remind patrons that food and drink are not allowed in the theatre. Patrons may also ask where restrooms and/or concessions are located.
When the performance resumes, close the inner doors and remain for a few minutes to assist patrons coming back late from the restroom or finishing a beverage. Then you may be seated again until the end of the performance.
After the Performance
When the house lights come up at the end of the performance, prop open all doors. Be sure not to open them too soon. Sometimes there are curtain calls and/or additional songs, etc. Don't anticipate. Wait until the lights go up. If patrons begin leaving before then, be ready to assist them.
After patrons are gone, pick up any programs left in your area and take them to the Information Center counter. You do not have to pick up trash. If you find personal belongings of patrons, take them to the Information Center counter - that's the lost-and-found area.
Volunteer Distributing Hearing Devices
You are responsible for distributing hearing assist devices. There is no charge. Obtain a driver's license or other identification card (not a credit card) to hold in the coat check area to ensure that the device is returned. Place the license or other identification card in the empty slot from which you removed the hearing assist device. If there is a problem with a device, exchange it for another one. Let the House Manager know about the defective device so it can be repaired.