Our ‘Dark Season’ is upon us; how dramatic does that sound? This is really a different way of saying that we don’t have shows taking place for a month while all the departments get on with essential maintenance and catch up on work. For me and my team, who look after the front of house side of the venue, it’s a very strange time… a department made solely for customer services without customers. However, this season is just as busy as a full week of shows. The Octagon is now almost a 7-day-week venue, as when there are no shows we still have all sorts of activities on – from 60 children taking part in summer school projects, to the regular dance classes and meetings.
This time of year is perfect for our department not just because of the sunshine (well the 3 days of it) but because we can improve the venue for our patrons. Over the years the summer has been used to add extra toilets add a new bar as well as to give the building that spring clean for the next 120,000 people to visit us. We also look at the products we offer; last week we had the really hard job of meeting with our local drinks supplier to change our wine list. I would recommend the Pinot Grigio Il Caggio Italian White, a delicately refreshing dry white which is lemon yellow in colour with flavours of fresh green apple and citrus balanced well by aromas of stone fruit. Our Catering Team are very busy with full deep cleans of the kitchens and preparing for another busy year, the team do a great job of serving an average of 100 meals in an hour, and right now they are looking at their menus and making sure everything is in place.
We also meet with the Foyer Club stewards over the summer with fire drill preparations and looking at ways to improve our service that our Foyer Club volunteers offer. The Foyer Club is one of the best things about The Octagon; it’s a voluntary group of people that come in to be our ushers, showing you to your seats and selling you your ice cream – without them we would struggle to run this place. I have also heard on the grape vine that they will be opening up their waiting list so that people can apply to become Foyer Club members so if this is something you might be interested in then let do our Box Office know.
Our main job is to prepare for the next 260 shows and make sure each and every person who walks into the building, including performers, has a great time and wants to come back. My favourite part of my job is standing by the exit at the end of the night saying goodbye to people as they let me know how much they enjoyed the show and what a lovely evening they had. That feedback and experience is what the FOH team work so hard for, it’s what keeps us going throughout the busy seasons and ensure that we are always striving to be better.