Podcast Episode #29: A guy on the front lines – Broadway Usher John Raymond Barker

I’ve been lucky enough to have some pretty influential people from Broadway on this podcast, from Tim Rice to Ben Brantley to Kevin McCollum and a bunch more.

But like any industry, Broadway isn’t run by just the 50 most powerful people.  In fact, sometimes it’s the people without the bold faced names that are even more important to its operation.

Broadway is a community of hundreds and hundreds of employees who all help make its crazy wheel go round, eight times a week.  And of all of the jobs, ushers talk to more of our ticket buyers than anyone (used to be the phone operators, but not now with online buying being what it is!).

So I wanted to talk to one.  I reached out to my friends over at Jujamcyn Theaters and asked for their help in picking one of their experienced vets to help me understand what was happening on the front lines and whether or not things had changed since this blog.

And they introduced me to John Raymond Barker, an actor whose “night job” is ushering at the Hirschfeld Theatre.  Listen in to this podcast to hear John’s first hand knowledge and insight on things like . . .

  • What’s the biggest complaint our audience has about going to the theater?
  • How training for ushers is different than it was ten years ago (at least for some of the theater chains).
  • How can we make Patti LuPone sleep easy at night and improve theater etiquette?
  • How texting is the least of our problems in the theater.
  • The solution to the bathroom debate.

Listen in and learn from one of Broadway’s foot soldiers.  I know I did!

Click here to listen.

Listen to it on iTunes here.  (And give me a rating, while you’re there!)

Download it here.

Click here to read the transcript.


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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  • Becca says:

    Hi Ken!

    Loved the podcast, can’t wait for next week, but I do have one thought for you. Obviously John was an amazing choice of guest, he had a wonderful and unique perspective to share about the business. And understandably many of the guests you’re picking are going to be specific well-known people who you select for their expertise and story. But when you’re looking for a person in a certain niche or specialty and don’t have restrictions to go on, I’d love to hear you interview more women! They too make up the ranks of ushers and “doormen” (to quote from the interview) and front of house staff, and it would be a great opportunity to help contribute to leveling the still-steep playing field of theatre. I’m not trying to advocate for not getting the best perspectives you possibly can, but perhaps there is a way to be more open-minded about who they come from.

    Becca Stoll

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