Tip of the Week: Met Opera Ushering

Dear Miss Managers,

Since I am an usher at the center yet didn’t work this event, a friend who attended the Met Opera Encore emailed me two complaints…

…”A college-aged girl showed up with giant backpack after the intro (she missed the part where he says turn off your electrical devices) and had to crawl over all of us to take her 2 seats, one for her backpack. First, she scrolled through her text messages. I let it go because it was during the Met intro stuff before the opera started. Then she seemed to put it away so I thought all was good. Then about 20 minutes into the opera, she started to get restless, and I thought to myself that she was about to pull her phone out. I was right! On it came and she thumbed through a few things. I let it go about 5 minutes and then leaned toward her and said, “Perhaps you need to sit in the back so that you won’t bother others in the audience.” She mumbled something about she was trying to keep it out of sight, but she did put it away. No apology, of course.”

…”There was an older couple down in row 2 or 3, middle of the row. The husband (?) had a smart phone, which he seemed to have on as if he was recording during a stretch at the beginning and again during act 2. It was visible to everybody. I don’t understand why the ushers didn’t do something. I wanted to get up and tell them, but I was sort of trapped where I sat. As we came back in for the start of Act 3, my husband mentioned it to the usher at the door, but the older gentleman didn’t pull out his phone during the last act.”

In the midst of a performance, how should the ushers have managed these situations?

Timidly,

Missed Opportunity

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Dear Missed Opportunity,

Since our ushers are the eyes and ears inside any venue, monitoring the behavior of the audience is their priority.  Let me offer some pointers for the future since we know patrons will continue to test the limits in all of our venues.

First, do your best to manage the situation while it’s in progress; catching someone in the act makes it easier to address, and it shows the audience surrounding the culprit that our staff is actively resolving the issue.

Second, report the issue to the House Manager.  The first thing your House Manager will ask is “What did you do to resolve it?”  If your efforts proved successful, great job!  If the misbehavior persists, immediately seek the attention of your House Manager who will step in and resolve the issue.

It’s always good to remember that our patrons can view the Met Opera at one of our local movie theatres.  At our local theatres, there isn’t an usher staff to keep order in the venue.  So when patrons make the choice to watch the opera at the Performing Arts Center, let’s dazzle them with our top-notch customer service and crowd management!

All knowing,

Miss Managers

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