Ushers there to assist, not to see a free show
I am writing in response to the commentary in the Sept. 9 paper about the volunteer policy at Shea's theater. I was an usher for 15 years at Shea's. I understand the two volunteers were unhappy to not be invited back, but some misconceptions about the role of the volunteer need to be pointed out.
First of all, ushers are there to assist patrons who have paid to see the production; ushers are not there to see the show for free. Ushers have a job to do before and during the production - assisting patrons, directing them to the end doors to leave the theater during the show, returning to their posts at the stage doors before intermission and before the end of the show - all of which can be distracting to the patrons watching the show.
Often ushers need to communicate with each other as well, and talking to your fellow usher is not appreciated by the patron who has paid for his or her seat. This is one of the main reasons ushers cannot sit in the same row or in front of patrons. It is important to note that there are always places to sit during the production - outside in the lobby. Therefore, any ushers who are elderly or who have health problems do not need to stand throughout the show; they just might not be able to watch it.
All of this is made clear during the opening meeting by Anthony Conte. These rules have been in place for quite a long time. If these two ladies were unhappy with their situation and received no support from their usher captain, why didn't they contact Conte? Colin Dabkowski was unfair in his depiction of Shea's as unfeeling and lacking in compassion. The policy makes sense to ensure the paying public has a satisfactory theater experience, and volunteers need to remember that they are there to assist the public, not to see Broadway shows for free.
Carol S. Kimmerle