In the heart of every theater, there’s a dynamic space where anticipation buzzes, and the excitement is palpable: the Front of House (FOH). This is the audience’s first encounter with the world of the play, an integral part of the theatre experience that often goes unnoticed, yet is crucial to setting the stage for the magic that unfolds beyond the curtains.
The Welcome The FOH is where the audience is welcomed into the theatre’s embrace. Here, they are greeted by ushers, ticket takers, and often a warm smile from the house manager. “Our goal is to make every guest feel like they’re stepping into something extraordinary,” says house manager, Greg Chen. “From the moment they step through the door, they should feel the transformative energy of live theatre.”
The Art of Seating Seating guests is more than just showing them to their seats; it’s an art that requires grace, efficiency, and an understanding of accessibility. FOH staff like usher Emily Watson know this well. “Every patron has unique needs and expectations. It’s our job to ensure they’re seated comfortably and with the least disruption, to help them fully immerse in the performance.”
Concessions: A Taste of Theatre The concessions stand is a place where the sensory experience of the theatre begins. It offers a taste—literally—of the culture of the theatre. Concessions manager Raj Patel says, “Our offerings are curated to enhance the experience, sometimes even thematically linked to the show. It’s about crafting an atmosphere that starts with the palate.”
Merchandising: Mementos of the Moment FOH also often includes a merchandise booth where patrons can purchase souvenirs that serve as tangible memories of the performance. Whether it’s a program signed by the cast or a piece of thematic merchandise, these items are tokens that extend the life of the play beyond the final bow.
The Role of the Box Office The box office is the heartbeat of the FOH, where the anticipation for the evening begins as patrons collect their tickets. Box office staff like Marcus Lee play a key role. “We’re often the first interaction the audience has with the theatre, and we set the tone for their experience. It’s about hospitality and enthusiasm for the arts.”
Accessibility Services: Inclusivity at the Fore In modern theatre, FOH also serves as a hub for accessibility services, ensuring that all patrons, regardless of ability, can enjoy the performance. From providing hearing aid devices to guiding visually impaired guests, the commitment to inclusivity is a cornerstone of FOH operations.
The Ambiance of the Lobby The lobby is where the audience mingles before the show and during intermission, surrounded by the ambiance that teases the evening’s theme. “The lobby’s design, the music playing, the lighting—it’s all deliberate,” shares FOH decorator Lila Monroe. “We want the transition from the outside world to the world of the play to be seamless and inviting.”
Ensuring Safety and Comfort Above all, the FOH is responsible for the safety and comfort of the audience. This means not only maintaining a clean and orderly environment but also being prepared for emergencies. Safety officer Hugo Torres says, “Everyone in FOH is trained to handle emergencies calmly and efficiently, ensuring the well-being of our patrons at all times.”
The FOH is more than a transitional space; it’s a crucial aspect of the theatre experience. It’s where the audience’s journey begins, and the narrative of their evening takes root. As the lights dim and the doors to the auditorium close, the FOH has already set the stage, ensuring that the audience is primed for the transformative experience of live theatre.
This article offers a glimpse into the role and importance of the Front of House in theatres, highlighting how this area serves as the initial touchpoint for audiences, setting the tone for their entire theatrical experience.