The premise of Ushers: The Front of House Musical is simple: the attendants who greet the incoming audience are, in fact, the cast. Once they have seen everyone to their seats, they roll up their sleeves for an evening’s work on the new Britney Spears musical: Oops, I did it again. In short order, the various dynamics of Ben and Gary (the squabbling lovers), Steven (the good-looking love interest who just wants to act), and Rosie (a “stagey ninja”, who uses her position to stalk leading men), are introduced as the merchandise kiosk is transformed with Britney masks and fuchsia feather boas. The fun begins in earnest when the two final cast members are thrown into the mix: Robyn, the pseudo-evil “Theatre Nation” middle manager who has his eye on a promotion, and Lucy, the new girl, who must learn the tricks and tribulations of the trade—not least, being asked why there’s no spoon in her ice-cream tub multiple times per night.
Much of the ensuing hour and twenty minutes comprises the simultaneous sending up of, and a fond nod towards, the theatre business, with gags and astonishingly well-rehearsed song and dance pastiches gleaned from myriad musicals, liberally sprinkled throughout. The sound quality is inconsistent, and Yiannis Koutsakos’ music and James Oban’s lyrics are not quite as strong as James Rottger’s book, but the jokes are consistently funny, and somehow manage not to exclude those who might not get all the references. Factor in a tremendously talented cast, plenty of hearty chuckles, and a tug on the heartstrings here and there, and this highly professional and thoroughly likable production has the audience firmly onside from, quite literally, the moment the house is open.