House Manager Hugh Barnett | THEATER: All the Moving Parts
In this new episode of “THEATER: All the Moving Parts,” on CUNY TV, host Patrick Pacheco sits down with Hugh Barnett, the House Manager for the Majestic Theatre, home to "Phantom of the Opera,” to discuss how he keeps audiences safe, comfortable and happy amid a pandemic and the virus of cellphones. As a veteran house manager, Barnett’s job is likened to that of a major domo, who must make sure that everything runs smoothly and like clockwork. At the theater, that means non-stop duties, including: following fire safety protocols; managing a staff of ushers, porters, and other personnel; keeping queues moving through security checks, box-office will calls, and bathroom visits; coping with latecomers, medical emergencies, the needs of visiting celebrities, and people texting during performances; and dealing with a slew of complaints, from the temperature in the theater to what to do with children whose idea of a good time is kicking the seat in front of them. Barnett, who has been a house manager for thirty-six years, says that in order to be effective you have to “...first and foremost, be a people person. You have to like people. You have to be empathetic and understand their concerns. And you have to be very detailed-oriented.” Patrick Pacheco says, “What I found most intriguing is just how important it is for a house manager to tend to the audience’s every need in a thorough, timely, and efficient manner. No task is too small, no demand too insignificant because the quarters are so close, and the human temperament can be so volatile. The proper motto for a house manager is, to quote Arthur Miller, 'Attention must be paid.’”
You can view the episode here.