As part of our blog, we have decided to give you the inside scoop on the different roles within our Society. It takes many hands to keep our society running smoothly, and it is also a lot of fun being involved in multiple ways!

Today we are exploring a very demanding and sociable job role within LADS, Front of House! Front of House are the smiling, organised and helpful faces that our wonderful audiences get to deal with first hand. They have excellent time management skills, perfect people skills and also keep the shows running whilst everyone backstage bustles into position!

At the minute our Front of House team is lead by Mandi Tickner and Alana Wilson (who is also our Box Office Manager), however we often get many different faces forming the rest of the team, show by show. I was lucky enough to get a detailed insight of how the Front of House team work, from Mandi and Alana themselves.

The Foyer during our Dads Army production.

Our Front of House team may not have the most glamorous role within the society, however they have the privilege and responsibility of looking after our audience, which is highly rewarding. Some of our Front of House team have been meeting and greeting audience members for over fifteen years, and some still dabble with some onstage fun as well as being able to watch by the fire exit at the back! On an average show night, our team make sure every visitor and patron is warmly greeted in our foyer, which can be themed when a play is on (filled with props from past sets!), of particular interest is the ‘Strange and Interesting’ huge plant from our 2012 production of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ (handmade too!). However, you won’t miss our Front of House team with their striking L.A.D.S t-shirts so you always know where they are! On a performance night, the main job for our Front of House team, is to greet guests, issue their tickets and take them to their seats. However they are also the first point of call for audience members if they need help navigating their seats or the facilities, they also hand out programmes and raffle tickets too.

But before all of this our Front of House team have extra responsibilities such as unlocking the doors, turning on house lights, sweeping away any animal droppings from the front door (we are on a farm after all!). They check the heating is on, complete relevant health & safety checks and set up the box office. They ensure all facilities are topped up with hand towels, and other amenities, making sure the stage curtains are closed so the audience don’t get a sneak peek of the set before we start. They check all the seats are correctly laid out with a cushion ready for the audience and they liaise with the backstage crew and lighting/sound team to ensure the curtains are opened once everyone is ready and seated. Once all this is checked, double checked and checked again, then we are ready to open our doors and let all our lovely audience members in!

Our huge resident ‘Audrey 2’ prop from LADS Little Shop of Horrors Production!

Our team come alive again in the interval, dealing with any queries, chatting with our audience, assisting our kitchen staff in making sure an orderly queue is formed for teas and coffees and being a point of call for any problems or issues that may have arisen in the audience during the first half. They also make sure that the veil between the manic changes and panic backstage is kept well away from our audience, to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience from the moment the audience enter to the moment they leave. At the end of the show, the Front of House staff are there yet again to smile and wave off our audience and check everyone is able to get out of the car park safely (usually by donning a hi viz vest and being traffic marshal!) They then do a quick clear up ready for the next day’s performance!

Even if this sounds like a well-oiled machine (and believe me, it is!) The job isn’t without it’s unexpected moments and stressful situations. This can range from pulling cars from the mud (winter shows, this can happen even if we try and try to prepare for it!), sneaking in some of the late comers so they don’t miss out, sneaking out nosey farm animals (we have had the odd sheep pop its head in to catch the finale!), sort out seating and ticket issues, sorting out any gaps and reserved seats…the list goes on! Sometimes a lighting cue doesn’t happen, sometimes an infant in the audience doesn’t like the musical number… On top of all that we have our adjudication nights for each performance, where a special meet and greet is required, taking interval refreshments orders so they do not have to queue up themselves, and then making them feel most welcome!

Mandi Tickner & Alana Wilson on the FoH desk.

There is so much to do, but every single member of our Front of House team have always said they love the job, and they keep returning to volunteer their time to make everything as special as can be for our audiences. These team members are the multi-tasking superheroes of LADS, and they are always happy to welcome more and more volunteers! It goes without saying that they are the image and the vibe of our LADS society, and we wouldn’t know what to do without them!

So next time you visit to see a performance, or if you’re turning up early for your show night as cast, don’t forget to give them a big smile, as we can’t thank them enough!

Thank you to Mandi Tickner and Alana Wilson for the information & insight, and always giving your all every day for our society!