A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

drama
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
 

NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

MAY USHER AND NORMAN HESOM (article first published : 2002-11-10)

At the end of November, Playhouse box office stalwarts May Usher and Norman Hesom issue their last tickets before heading for retirement after a long association with The Playhouse Company, formerly the Natal Performing Arts Council (NAPAC).

Norman joined the Napac Opera Chorus in 1976, singing in a wide variety of operas. In 1986, he joined the Front of House team managing the daytime operation and in 1993, was made redundant but was eventually relegated to the box office. This may have been an unwelcome move at the time but it marked the beginning of a firm friendship with May Usher who had been moved to the box office a year earlier.

May joined NAPAC in 1978, working in the box office at the former Alhambra Theatre. In 1985 she moved over to the Playhouse for the hard-hat production of “Pirates of Penzance”. “It was very exciting,” she remembers. “We had to have the computer in the Grand Foyer as the box office section was not ready yet.”

During the time they’ve worked together they have enjoyed many ups and downs and been there for each other at times of major personal losses. “We get on famously and have never had one row,” says May. “And we don’t do anything without asking each other’s opinion.” Norman agrees: “We understand each other,” he smiles. “There’s a lot of give and take.”

The links between May and Norman are closer than just friendship – they are both Scorpios and were born one day apart in 1937: May in Killnalech, County Cavan, Ireland, and Norman in Dundee, KZN. On February 4, 1965, May arrived in South Africa with her family to settle. The same day, Norman left South Africa for the first time to holiday in the UK.

Their most memorable times were in the period of artistic head of drama, Murray McGibbon, and the legendary musical director Geoffrey Sutherland. “The theatres were buzzing,” says Norman. “Every day something was happening – never a dull moment!

“We were able to pop in during our lunch hours and watch the rehearsals,” says May who also loved the lunch hour concerts by the Napac/Playhouse Singers and the Friday lunch-hour concerts by the Natal Philharmonic Orchestra (now the KZNPO).

Their most favourite productions were both directed by Geoffrey Sutherland, with Norman favouring “The Trilogy” (“Candide, “Sweet Charity” and “Sweeney Todd”) and May opting for “My Fair Lady”. And John Moss’s pantomimes – “Christmas isn’t Christmas without a pantomime,” says May.

Their worst memories come from the time when the Playhouse Opera was seriously destroyed by fire in 1993 and angry strikers picketed the building on a daily basis.

When asked for their suggestions for a stronger operation at the Playhouse, they were prompt in their response that the Playhouse desperately needed its own in-house ticketing system. Apparently, one is already in place but not connected to Computicket. Also crèche facilities for couples who have difficulty acquiring a babysitter.

After their retirement, May and Norman plan to meet once a fortnight but while May has no immediate future plans, Norman will be seen demonstrating pianos and Musikland in Glenwood Village on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings.




 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart