This is a living document of guidelines for Front of House Volunteers at DMTC. It should be reviewed before volunteering to House Manage or Usher for a performance. This document was created February 2012. Updates will be highlighted with the date of edit next to it to depict any changes.
Important Things to Remember:
House Managers should arrive at 7PM for evening performances and 1PM for matinees. The Lobby is open to Patrons starting one hour before the performance (7:15 and 1:15, respectively), and some patrons expect to be able to get concessions right away, so please start coffee and setting up concessions as soon as you arrive. Once a Concessions Usher arrives, you can delegate to them.
When Ushers arrive they should introduce themselves to the House Manager and ask for their first task.
Identification badges are at Concessions. The House Manager and Ushers should all wear a badge.
Food is not allowed in the House. However, drinks are.
The attire for all Front of House volunteers is business casual combinations of black and white. This should NOT include jeans, t-shirts, shorts, tennis shoes or flip flops. Any Usher not following the dress code may be asked to change into something provided by Jean.
The only people who can authorize free concessions during a performance are Jan and Steve or via a cookie card. If the authorization does not come directly from them, then it is not authorized. Anyone stating differently should be reported to the Producers and Hospitality Chair at the next available possibility.
The House: The auditorium portion of the theatre where the audience sits and watches. The House does not open until approximately 15 minutes before the show starts, or as the Stage Manager directs.
House Left: The audience’s left as they are looking at the stage.
House Right: The audience’s right as they are looking at the stage.
Lobby: The area containing the box office, concessions, bar and restrooms.
Front of House: The area where Patrons are allowed; this includes the lobby, concessions, bar, restrooms and auditorium. House Managers and Ushers are Front of House Volunteers.
Patron: Audience member. This does not include volunteers such as Ushers or Board Members on the day of their volunteering. Ushers and Board Members should give priority to the Patrons at all times.
Curtain: The time at which the first and second acts start.
Curtain Speech: The announcement directly before the show starts that gives information about goings on at the theatre, safety instructions, etc.
Stage Manager: Volunteer in charge of the performance and back stage. The Stage Manager will communicate to the House Manager when it is time to open the House and 5 minutes before Curtain. The Stage Manager is in charge of the show while the show is in process and anything he or she says is ‘law’. If there are any issues during the show regarding the Stage Manager, the ushers should carry out the Stage Manager’s request at the time and then report to a Producer and the Hospitality Chair for clarification and/or correction.
Janitor’s Closet: The storage space of cleaning supplies and extra toiletry supplies. It is the door located between the men’s and women’s restrooms in the House Left alcove of the Lobby.
Cookie Card: A cookie card is a card held by some Patrons that allow them a free cookie and drink per show. Seasonal cards should be checked off and one-time-only cards can be collected and destroyed.
House Managers do not watch the show on the day they volunteer. They should remain in the lobby and be available for late comers and emergencies, should they arise. In addition to signing up, House Managers should contact DMTCVolunteers@gmail.com with the date of their preferred viewing to arrange for the two complimentary tickets so they can return and see the show free of volunteer duties. DMTC cannot guarantee seating will be available if ticket arrangements are not made in advance –if the show is sold out and you did not contact us ahead of time, we cannot help you with that performance date, and you may have to pick another date to attend.
Upon arrival, House Manager should start making coffee and setting up Concessions. See Concessions for instructions. This can be delegated to a Concessions Usher once they arrive.
Ensure the upstairs doors to the House are closed (as well as the Light booth doors) before the performers start their warm ups.
While coffee is brewing, the House Manager should collect the start-up cash and refrigerator key from the Box Office. Start-up cash should be $60 in small bills. There is additional change available in the Box Office should there be an over abundance of large bills, see the Box Office Manager.
House Managers should be available to roam throughout the House and Lobby, ensuring that the Ushers do not have any problems and seating is going smoothly. Should questions arise with seating and the Usher and House Manager are not able to resolve the issue, the Patron should be directed to the Box Office for clarification. The availability to roam also means that the House Manager should not be behind concessions unless there is a problem.
When ushers start to arrive, have them check the supplies and cleanliness of the bathroom and then start folding programs. The Concessionaire Ushers should continue to finish setting up Concessions. One Concession Usher should check the level of the fountain. A bucket is under the sink to fill with water and pour into the main square of the fountain (the area enclosed in a square around the main fountain point.
House Managers should instruct the Ushers to remind Patrons that food is not allowed in the House and when selling concessions, the Concessionaire(s) MUST let every Patron know as they sell food items to each Patron.
The House Manager will be in communication with the Stage Manager via headset, which the Stage Manager will provide when he/she comes out to introduce themselves. The House Manager should return the headset to the sound and light booth at the end of the performance if the Stage Manager does not collect it.
When the Stage Manager is ready for the House to be open, the House Manager will direct the Ushers to open the doors and make an announcement or use the House Bell if it is available. The announcement should be something like, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the House is now open, feel free to find your seats. Please remember that drinks are allowed in the house but food items are not.”
At approximately 5 minutes to Curtain, the House Manager and Stage Manager will determine how the seating is going and whether more time will be needed to get the Patrons to their seats. The House Manager should announce in the lobby that the show will start in approximately 5 minutes and they should find their seats. A reminder of no food in the House could be beneficial.
After the 5 minute announcement, the House Manager should remain in the House Right Lobby to encourage people to their seats. While the Curtain Speech is in process, the House Manager needs to help seat any late comers.
During the First Act, the House Manager should restore the lobby to its original state, make more coffee if necessary and restock the refrigerator, if necessary (remember to put warm drinks in back so Patrons are sold cold drinks first).
During Intermission, the House Manager should float through the audience to see how they are enjoying the show. When the Stage Manager directs 5 minutes to the Second Act, the House Manager should make an announcement to finish their food items and return to their seats.
After Intermission, the House Manager should restore the lobby, restock the fridge, take down Concessions and count the proceeds from Concessions, then turn the proceeds in to the Box Office. Coffee pots should be emptied and rinsed and the coffee maker burners should be turned off. Any full trash cans should be taken out to the dumpster if the HM is able, or can instruct an usher to do so after the show.
Throughout the performance, House Managers should be aware of any excess noises in the theatre and also outside. If suspicious actions are taking place outside, do not interact but call the non-emergency police line, which is located on the fridge.
When Patrons arrive after the show has started, the House Manager should seat them with as little distraction to the show as possible. If the late Patrons’ seats are Rows B-F, the House Manager should take them through the downstairs doors closest to their seats. If the Patrons’ seats are beyond Row F, the House Manager should take them upstairs through the lobby stairs and down to their row in the House or the closest available seats from the top if the Patrons don’t mind, as this will keep the distractions to the show at a minimum. If the Patrons are not capable of using the stairs, then they should use the downstairs entrance to the closest available seats.
After Intermission, count out $60 in small bills (preferably $20 in ones and $40 in fives) and place back in the start-up envelope. The rest should be counted and placed in another envelope with the show, performance date and total placed on the outside. Both envelopes should be submitted to the Safe in the Box Office (additional envelopes are available in the upper cabinet to the right of the fridge).
Ushers should arrive at 7:15PM for evening performances and 1:15PM for matinees and introduce themselves to the House Manager. The Lobby is open to Patrons starting one hour before the performance (7:15 and 1:15, respectively), and some patrons expect to be able to get coffee and cookies right away.
Ushers can watch the show on the day they volunteer, either in unsold seats or white plastic chairs at the top of the stairs. During the show, ushers should keep their eyes out for people taking pictures or recordings without DMTC permission. This is not allowed as it violates copyright law and can distract the actors to the point of endangerment. Should a patron appear to have difficulty in getting to or out of their seat, the nearest Usher should assist them so the rest of the audience is distracted as little as possible. If Patrons do not comply they should be asked to leave the theatre.
The House Right curtain should be closed during the performance. If Patrons exit during the performance the nearest Usher should find an opportunity (during applause or a black out) to ensure it is closed.
The Ticket Scanning Ushers ensure the House Left doors and House Right curtains are closed at the beginning of each Act.
Ushers should wait until after Curtain to get any desired purchases. Ushers should not eat while Patrons are present (they will have to enter the theatre late in order to finish any food items.
The Bar will sell legal-aged Ushers a drink ONLY after Intermission. Ushers should not perform their duties under the influence of alcohol.
Upon arrival, Ushers should fold programs, ensure the supplies in the restrooms are stocked and check the water level of the fountain, filling it up with water using the bucket under he sink.
30 Minutes Prior to House Opening
(Or as the lobby fills up and people head towards the doors to the theatre)
The Seating and Ticket Scanning Ushers will stand at their respective doors to ensure Patrons do not pass through until the Stage Manager gives the okay to open the House. Also no food is permitted in the House.
During the Curtain Speech, the doors and curtains should not be closed until after the curtain speech to allow late stragglers to come in. Ushers should not find their seats until after the Curtain Speech, when the House Manager says it is okay.
The Ticket Scanning Ushers will stand at their respective doors to ensure food is not brought into the House. Seating Ushers will stand at the stage making sure Patrons do not walk on the stage or try to go back stage without permission. Some patrons do not realize that there is a height difference between the house and the stage and could trip. Ushers standing at the stage should do their best to prevent that.
Audience Members are not allowed backstage at intermission at all, and after the show they are not allowed back stage without a Board Member escort. Cast members cannot bring guests backstage without prior authority. Under no circumstances are non-show members allowed in the dressing rooms.
After the Show
All ushers will go through the house and pick up any programs or cups left behind. There are gloves and trash bags in the Janitor’s Closet should you prefer to use them (the Janitor’s Closet is the door located between the restroom doors).
Ticket Scanning Ushers
DMTC uses a bar code process to count how many Patrons have arrived for each performance. There is a laptop and scanner at each door leading from the Lobby to the House. There should be one ticket for every Patron, and all tickets must be scanned (not just one ticket per group).
Scan the ticket until the ticket beeps and is cleared on the screen. If the screen turns red, direct the Patron to the Box Office, as there is an issue with their ticket.
Programs should also be distributed when tickets are scanned. This station can be manned by one person.
All House doors and curtains should be closed at the beginning of each act.
Many Patrons may have never been to DMTC, so they may be overwhelmed and lost when they enter the House. One seating Usher should be directly inside the House and should offer to show Patrons to their seats. The Usher should walk the Patron to the seats as much as possible, not just point in the general direction.
The laptop menus for the scanning, just in case they are not set up, is
Sales > Access Control > Show Choice > Go
The first row of seating in the House, Row B, is designed to accommodate wheelchairs. When a Patron in a wheelchair with a Row B ticket is ready to be seated, the Usher should remove the corresponding seat already in place and the wheelchair will fit in its place. Removed chairs should be placed in the closest alcove/lobby hallway as the Stage Manager designates is safe for the performers. Walkers and can be placed in the same location and retrieved promptly at the end of each act.
If a Patron does not have a Row B ticket and cannot climb stairs, an Usher can check with box office for a Row B seat. If Row B is sold out, an Usher can ask if there are any Row B Patrons willing to trade seats to better accommodate a disabled Patron.
Float Ushers are not assigned a specific task, but could be assigned wherever they might be needed. This could include passing out programs with a Ticket Scanning Usher, doubling up with Seating Ushers to help speed things along, and assisting in concessions by retrieving drinks from the fridge and making additional coffee if coffee is running low. If a special promotion is in process, such as a raffle or special concessions item sales, the Float Ushers will assist with the special promotion.
Ushers under the age of 18 are not allowed to handle money in concessions. However, they can help Concessions by retrieving drinks from the fridge (Float Ushers).
There should be at least two Ushers dedicated as Concessionaires; three if someone is able to retrieve drinks from the fridge.
The House Manager should collect the start-up cash from the Box Office, which is $60 in small bills. If someone arrives with a large bill, ask if they have anything smaller. If not, give them their change. Let the House Manager know when you’re getting low on change.
Only Jan and Steve can determine when free product is distributed. Some Patrons have cookie cards, which should be checked off when they are given their cookie and drink.
Clean towels are located to the left of the fridge underneath the counter. Used towels should be placed in the designated spot under the sink. If you notice towels are low, please let Jean know.
See the diagram in the Front of House Binder on how to display concessions.
(Facing the Box Office)
Hot Water Pot
1 measured cup of coffee grounds for every pot of coffee (Note: one of the coffee scoops is ½-measuring cup and the other is ¼-measuring cup, so you would use two scoops of the ½ cup and four scoops of the ¼ cup).
Put the coffee into the proper airpots. The Regular airpot holds two pots of coffee, and the Decaf holds one and a half. It is always good to anticipate the need for coffee. In the winter, always have a pot each of regular and decaf on the top burners as back up.
A clean towel can be placed under both airpots to soak any drips.
The Concessionaire(s) MUST let every Patron know that food is not allowed in the House. If the purchase is made close to Curtain, the Concessionaire let the Patron know that there are X minutes before the curtain and that food is not allowed in the House.
Cookies should NOT be touched with bare hands. Concessionaires should pick up the cookie requested by the Patron with a napkin and hand it to them. NOTE: the Honey Almond bars/cookies should be picked up and delivered with wax paper, as they tend to stick.
Wax paper should cover the cookies AND the lids should be secured whenever they are not being shown for sale. This includes during the performance.
Orchestra/Tech Crew Order
Each member of the Orchestra and technical crew gets one free snack (cookie or candy bar) and one free (non-alcoholic) drink during each performance. Send an Usher with the order form (located in the back of the Concessions Binder) to get the orders before the show. The order should be fulfilled on a tray and taken down to the orchestra pit before Intermission (the Stage Manager can help determine when it is best, or everything but coffee can be delivered before the First Act starts). There is a fridge in the orchestra pit to keep their drinks cold. A member of the Technical Crew will collect their treats when Intermission starts.
Only trained, approved volunteers should be behind the bar. This section of the lobby is run completely separate from Concessions and the House Manager should not have to worry about it. However, it would be nice to check in on the bartender from time to time; just in case they need help getting change from the Box Office or a soda from concessions.
Fire extinguishers are mounted in the walls, approximately three feet down each hallway. They should not be blocked or barricaded at any time.
Should an emergency arise, the House Manager is in charge. The Ushers and House Managers are responsible for keeping order as best as possible.
In the event of a building evacuation, the audience should find their nearest exit. This is also mentioned and pointed out in the curtain speech. The exits are through the House Left and directly out the next door to the outside, and through the House Right door up to the lobby and out the front doors. The Seating and Scanning Ushers for each side of the House should ensure safe evacuation by standing next to the doors and directing patrons where to go. Concessions ushers should stand outside and keep the Patrons out of the street and out of the way of emergency vehicles.
In the event of needing an ambulance, the House Manager should call 9-1-1 and direct the emergency operator. Then an usher should be appointed to go outside and wait for the emergency services and direct them in. The person needing assistance should not be moved if at all possible, unless a doctor or trained personnel are present to assist.
In the event that any person at DMTC is injured, it should be reported to the House Manager and the House Manager should fill out an incident report (located in the Concessions binder in the Concessions area) and let the Producers or an available Board Member know. The incident should be documented as to what happened, who was involved and any contact information of persons involved. If the injured party refuses assistance, that should also be mentioned.
We understand that this is a lot of information for what is only a few hours of your time, but we want to make sure that you are properly informed in your duties and in the event of any situation. As stated in the beginning, this is a living document and will be updated as the DMTC Hospitality Committee sees fit. Therefore, we encourage your feedback at any time, and should you have anything but a positive experience while volunteering at DMTC, please do not hesitate to let us know so we can fix it for the future!
Sign Up to Volunteer
The link below will take you to a Google Document where the performance dates are listed down the left column and the various Front of House duties are listed across the top. Type your name in the box/cell that corresponds with the date and duty for which you would like to volunteer. Only one name per box/cell, please. Once your selection(s) have been made, simply close out of the window (there is no save button required).
By clicking the link below and adding your name to a volunteer slot, you hereby acknowledge that you have read the above information, understand its contents, and will follow the guidelines to the best of your abilities.
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