210 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8DP 020 7379 5399

Rebecca Storey

  • The Shaftesbury Theatre foyer entrance, 2011

As part of the Shaftesbury Stories project, we’re releasing a weekly interview with someone who has played a role in our Theatre’s story.

This could be anyone – an audience member, a performer, a former or current staff member. We’d like to tell the stories of the people who have made our building what it is today.

If you’re interested in being interviewed for this project, please get in touch! We’d love to hear from you.

Archive

Kiss of the Spiderwoman

Kiss of the Spiderwoman, based on the story by Manuel Puig, played at the Shaftesbury Theatre between 1992 and 1993. It initially starred Chita Rivera in the lead role, which was later taken over by Bebe Neuwirth. After the London run, it transferred to Broadway and won seven Tony Awards.
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The second person in our series of Shaftesbury Stories interviews is Rebecca Storey. Rebecca is the Front of House Manager at the Shaftesbury Theatre, and has very kindly agreed to answer a few questions about her memories of working in our building.

 

Tell us about your favourite memory of the Shaftesbury Theatre.

There are so many great moments to choose from but l think one of my favourite moments has to be when Prince Charles and Camilla chose to come to a gala performance of The Far Pavilions for their first public engagement as a married couple, to support his Indian Charities. It took many weeks of careful planning with weekly visits to St James Palace to pull together all of the various elements of the evening including a star studded Bollywood audience. The evening was a huge success for the theatre and as a massive Bollywood fan l was beyond excited to be asked to escort Shah Rubk Khan, one of the largest and nicest stars in Bollywood, backstage to meet the cast post show.

Rebecca Storey
FOH Staff at the Shaftesbury
Shaftesbury Theatre
Foyer merchandise stall

Could you tell us a bit about your job at the Shaftesbury Theatre? What does a House Manager do, both during a performance and during the rest of the day?

During a performance it is my job to ensure the smooth running of the entire front of house operation with a lot of help from my staff and other departments. This starts with staff briefing notes for the front of house and security staff from information provided to me by our lovely Box Office staff. This way we know who is coming into our house and who may need our assistance be it someone with access needs, perhaps a school party or someone with a hospitality booking as we want to ensure that all of our customers feel cared for and have the best possible experience when at our venue.

It is my job to make sure that any issues or disputes that might arise on the night are dealt with in a timely manner. This can be anything from a ticketing issue to a first aid situation or licensing problem. No two shows are ever the same hence the appeal of the job. The shows tend to fly by as l am kept busy with admin, banking or touching base with my staff.

The day times at the theatre are quite different and my role is much more admin based. I have the largest number of staff in the theatre so my days are spent picking up issues with housekeeping or maintenance that they will have flagged the day before as well as administrating the needs of my department and ensuring that the other members of my management team are looking after our suppliers and accounts.

Your job involves a lot of interacting with our audiences. Do you have any interesting or funny stories about your experiences with audience members?

There have been a lot of genuinely heartfelt and pretty bonkers moments shared with members of our audience over the years – from the groups of goths who came to watch Batboy and kept telling me this was the first venue where they had felt accepted and not judged for how they looked, to the elderly gentleman who used to come and see all of our shows after his wife passed away, who would then send me a cartoon which he would have drawn of me as a super hero as a thank you for the shared evening and a little bit of human interaction, to the drunken customer who put a gypsy curse on one of my colleagues only to have her husband come back to remove it.

Even though you work in a theatre all day, do you still enjoy going to the theatre for entertainment? When you’re watching a show, do you think you notice anything that an ordinary audience member might not?

Theatre is more than just a job for me it is a passion and l genuinely enjoy going to see other shows and performances. That said l do sometimes judge how engaging a performance is if l don’t find myself being irritated by a open curtain or an usher who hasn’t spotted the annoying person using their phone two rows in front of me.

I will always be looking at how other venues compare to ours staff and product wise as l always want our venue to excel in these areas.

Our stage has seen many amazing performances over the last 109 years. Are there any shows that you wish you had seen, or would love to see again?

Ironically the first show l ever saw in London was The Kiss of the Spiderwoman which was playing at the Shaftesbury Theatre. I had moved to London maybe a week beforehand and l used the theatre with its distinctive bell tower as my landmark of choice in order to get my bearings and saw that Bebe Neuwirth was in the cast so knowing what a fabulous performer she was l decided to see the show. She was wonderful but if l could go back in time l would have liked to have also seen the legendary Chita Rivera in the role. Failing that l would have loved to have been there when the theatre first opened on Boxing Day 1911 to see how the theatre first looked all of those years ago and watch The Three Musketeers.

With theatres closed at the moment, is there anything that you’re missing that has surprised you?

I don’t think that l’ve been surprised but l am missing the people that l work with. Like the bar in the tv sitcom, Cheers, it is a place where everyone knows your name and it really is like having an extended family. Also a theatre without an audience is just another building so we need our lovely audience for our current show & Juliet to come back and see us as soon as it is deemed safe for them to do so.

FOH Staff at the Shaftesbury
Kiss of the Spiderwoman
Hire the Shaftesbury Theatre
The Shaftesbury auditorium
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