A day in the life of... A Front of House Manager
Checking tickets and selling ice creams are just the tip of the iceberg for any front of house team. Your trip to theatre wouldn’t be possible without them, so to find out more we spoke to Front of House Manager Danny Krohm to find out exactly what her role at The Old Vic entails.
What does your job involve?
I am part of the Theatre Management team and we work very closely together to run front of house at The Old Vic.
My job involves;
- Making sure the building meets health and safety executive regulations front-of-house for staff and all of our patrons – this includes running regular fire drills with the front of house team, and maintaining up to date risk assessments, whilst also being a member of the health and safety committee
- Ensuring the safety of our patrons every day, and also in evacuation situations
- Recruiting new members of the front of house team, to work across ushering, bars, supervising and duty managing
- Managing the front of house staff
- Creating and updating front of house handbooks, including updates to reflect any special requirements for each show
- Duty managing up to three shows per week
- Working closely with the rest of the theatre management team to ensure the smooth running of important events which run outside of our main schedule of productions
- Overseeing the stock control of the merchandise sold front of house like programmes, and keeping our accounts up to date. This involves maintaining a high level of accuracy and attention to detail
- Training the front of house team on a regular basis to maintain high levels of customer service and safety.
What do you do on an average day?
My days are incredibly varied; some days I am mainly desk-based and am able to work 10am–6pm, at times I need to come in early to greet contractors and so will be in from 8am. Other days I am duty managing a double shift and therefore work from 12pm–11.30pm solely on the shows. When we have a press night, or similar event, I can be in work preparing our front of house space and team from 9am–midnight. As such, I’m afraid there isn’t really an ‘average day’ for a Front of House Manager!
Have you always worked in a theatre?
I’ve been working in the theatre business for the last 20 years, since I moved to the UK from Germany. Before this I trained in Hotel and Catering Management, which gave me a good grounding for the skills needed to ensure a high standard of customer service. During my first year of working in the UK I worked in the restaurant at the RSC Theatre in Stratford Upon-Avon, and saw my first show onstage. This is when I developed a passion for theatre, and initially acting, when I decided to complete a BA in Drama at Richmond Drama School. After a year of this course, I tried working for a few years as an actress, alongside working bar and ushering shifts at Richmond Theatre. At this point I decided to take the path of theatre management, as I had discovered that I enjoyed the logistical and organisational side of theatre. Since then I have worked behind bars and as an usher in a couple of different theatres (Waterman’s Arts Centre, Richmond Theatre, Wimbledon Theatre, The Old Vic and the Almeida Theatre), progressing to becoming a Supervisor, Assistant Manager, Bar Manager and now the Front of House Manager.
Which part of your job do you most enjoy?
I enjoy every aspect of my job as it is so versatile but the part I enjoy the most is duty managing the performances and being part of customers’ experience when they see a show at The Old Vic. It makes me feel extremely proud being part of such a fantastic organisation standing in the auditorium at the curtain call and seeing standing ovations from the audience.
What is your best memory of working at The Old Vic so far?
I have many great memories of working at The Old Vic, but my favourite is meeting Tom Cruise (particularly as Top Gun is one of my favourite films).
If you were to offer a young person wanting to get into the industry some advice, what would you tell them?
Firstly, I would say that if you want to work in theatre you should be certain that it is an industry you would like to work in, as it is an incredibly competitive environment. As a result of this, it is important to commit yourself to your role and be willing to show this commitment by going the extra mile. Employers will want to know, from working with you, that you are eager and keen to learn new skills, which can be applied in your job. In my case, being persistent about job opportunities certainly helped!
What is the biggest misconception about working in a theatre?
Most people think that working in the theatre is glamorous. In reality, most members of a theatre’s staff have to work unsociable and sometimes long hours. Our work is to make the patron’s evening a fun and exciting one, which basically means we are working at the time most people get to have fun.
Did you have any theatre heroes when you were growing up?
I didn’t really have any theatre heroes when I was growing up, more movie heroes like Tom Cruise. My theatre hero now is Anthony Sher.