The cast might get all the applause and glory when it comes to a community theatre performance. However, the Front of House staff are integral to making a great night at the theatre into an unforgettable night at the theatre.
The Front of House (FOH) team is charged with the important responsibility of making a first impression. You can only make a first impression once – make it a good one! Way before the curtain goes up and the actors have a chance to entertain, the audience should already be having the best night ever – thanks to the hardworking Front of House volunteers.
Below are a list of tips and advice that will make your Front of House team a well-oiled machine.
Prior to the Performance
* Ensure you secure appropriate permits. If you’re a licenced event, make sure you have enough time to arrange your liquor licence. Ensure all liquor licencing signage is sourced and displayed. If you’re selling merchandise, make sure you have the appropriate inclusions in your production agreement;
* The Management Committee should communicate regularly with all of those assisting with the planning and organisation of Front of House, to make sure it is all arranged. Ensure that the Front of House Manager is aware of the anticipated number of Patrons so that there is adequate merchandise, programs, raffle tickets and refreshments available;
*Ensure there are adequate staffing levels to manage crowds on the day. Remind those that have their RSA to bring their certification.
At The Performance
*Where practical, have the same person do the same job to maximise role familiarity. Ensure the Ushers are familiar with the seating plan and have a torch for late comers or those that might need assistance leaving the theatre whilst the lights are down;
*All Front of House Staff (and Backstage for that matter!) must be aware of evacuation procedures. Also, be aware of the patrons that might need assistance;
*Work the room. Don’t confine selling programs, raffle tickets and refreshments to a podium, behind a table, or behind a counter. Whilst having a central point is a great, working the foyer and theatre will not only maximise sales but also the ease for the patron;
*Incorporate some interactivity. Whilst having production photos and banners on display is essential, having an interactive front of house adds another level of enjoyment to your production. Having a feature wall complete with #hashtags, Instagram frame and props available will give the audience a lasting memory of their enjoyable night out and will get you some promotion as well.
*Start the show on time. Whilst some circumstances are outside of the FOH staffs control every effort should be made to ensure the show starts on time. Continual communication between backstage and Front of House needs to be maintained. However, the production can’t start until everyone is seated and that is the responsibility of Front of House. Ring the bells, make announcements. Get the audience in their seats! Nicely…
*And finally, and most importantly, amaze your audience! If you are working front of house, whatever your role, you are the public face of your Society. Just as much as the performance on offer, they’ll base their experience on how they were treated. That means you need to make every audience members experience a special one, giving them the very best service with a friendly smile where nothing is too much trouble.
Achieving the best possible audience experience should be at the heart of every community theatre production.
The best ways to build a loyal audience is to ensure that they will return to your Society, regardless of what’s on stage, because they enjoy the experience of a night out with you.
To the Front of House Staff – here is your applause – BRAVOO!
Thank you for your contribution to a great night out.
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