Backstage at The Lowry: Kate Rice, House Manager

Kate Rice

I have been fortunate enough to work at The Lowry since before it even opened.

On my first day in February 2000 I arrived in my new suit ready to start my new job – only to be handed a hard hat and a pair of wellies!

Watching The Lowry turn from an empty shell to the amazing building it is now will stay with me forever. I will never forget being one of the first people to go up the escalator on the day it was installed, or see the seats being fitted in The Lyric Theatre.

My role as house manager is extremely varied and no two days are the same – and that’s why I love it!

My primary responsibilities are to ensure the front of house areas and theatres are ready for all gallery visitors and theatre patrons and that the visiting companies are made to feel welcome.

My team and I manage the Welcome Desk, take group tours, prepare the programmes and merchandise, carry out regular health and safety checks, ensure the corporate theatre boxes are set and the auditorium seats are ready.

We also manage Stage Door, which is a fascinating place to be! Although it is slightly odd during show time when a ballet dancing Swan may walk past on a mobile phone! We also manage the crowds that can gather outside after a show by eager customers seeking an autograph.

With three theatres to manage it can be very challenging – especially as some days we can have as many as eight performances. I love that the shows in each space can be so different and attract completely different audiences.

We liaise very closely with the visiting company and the technical team during the show. This is to ensure the front of house team are aware of all special effects, so that we can pass the information onto the audience, and most importantly to start to the show!

A large part of my role is managing almost 300 volunteer ushers. Working with volunteers is fantastic and very rewarding, I have met and worked with some fascinating people over the last 13 years. The volunteers are always so helpful and provide excellent customer service to our visitors – in fact they were recently Highly Commended in the Manchester Tourism Awards “Star” category!

I have had the opportunity to meet and talk to some amazing people over the years but one of my highlights was having a waltz with Anton Du Beke in my office!

The Front of House Team are always on call and we respond to all sorts though our working day. We’ve glued heels back on shoes, repaired patrons glasses, provided safety pins for clothing and looked after Guide Dogs when their owners are watching a show.

I can honestly say that I love my job at The Lowry and love coming into contact with all of the wonderful people that come here!

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