Who's in the house? Curtain raiser - Life and Style - The Independent

Who's in the house? Curtain raiser

Costumiers, box office, doormen, dressers: it's all going on behind the scenes in London's West End

Wyndham's Theatre and the Albery Theatre stand back to back and share a stage door. The Wyndham's is home to the longest-running comic play in the West End, Art, by Yasmina Reza, which changes cast about every three months, pulling in a new audience each time. The Albery Theatre has recently provided a West End home for the headline-grabbing off-West End Almeida Theatre in Islington. Recent sell-out shows have included Cate Blanchett in Plenty, and it is currently showing the classic US theatrical satire Forbidden Broadway.

Both theatres are very grand front of house, but backstage it's a different story. The dressing rooms are cramped and the corridors have an institutional feel. Wyndham's Theatre opened in 1899 and from its first Royal performance became a byword for sophistication. The Albery Theatre opened in 1903 and for many years was owned and managed by the Albery Family, until it was sold, together with Wyndham's, in 1984. It was the end of an era.

Albery Theatre, St Martin's Lane, London WC2 (0171-369 1730). Wyndham's Theatre, Charing Cross Road, London WC2 (0171-369 1736)

Rick Strickland

Hair and wig master, Albery Theatre. Has worked on Almeida productions at the theatre since July 1998

Strickland's room at the theatre had already been personalised by a previous occupant, and he was very happy to leave it as it was. "People love coming in here and they totally chill out. I like it because I feel like I'm up in the gods, away from everyone and everything. It's like being in the clouds or by the sea. Working for the Almeida it's like a family: great productions, great people to work with, wonderful, I'm very lucky."

Zac Yalinkilickhi

Stage door keeper, Albery and Wyndham's theatres. Has worked here since 1993

The stage door is the front door for everyone who works here, from the cleaners to the actors, as well as being the haunt of stage-door Johnnies. "The stage door is open from 8.30am to 11.30pm or until everyone leaves the building," says Zac. "There are three doorkeepers who work in shifts throughout the week. I usually work the morning shift. The door keeper is responsible for all the mail and the keys for the 36 dressing rooms. As in most theatres, there is no dressing room number 13."

Richard Trice (right)

Box office assistant, Wyndham's Theatre. Has worked here for nine months

"It's one of the prettiest theatres in London. It's been exceptionally well-maintained and preserved and is coming up to its 100th birthday. A different type of audience come in with each cast for Art: Jack Dee pulled in a lot of his own fans and Frank Skinner will probably do the same." Also in the picture are Peter Wheeler, a theatre attendant who has worked at Wyndham's for three years, and Charlie Thaine, a front-of-house assistant, who has worked at the theatre for 10 months.

Sally Ann Dicksee

Wardrobe mistress, Wyndham's. Has worked on `Art' for two years

The cast of Art changes every three months and all three cast members need new costumes every time. Sally Ann is also responsible for washing the costumes daily, ironing and pressing the suits and carrying out any repairs that are required. "You just come in and make it your own, and cover up all the nasty bits," she says of her tiny wardrobe room. "Generally wardrobes in theatres tend to be quite small rooms, so you make the most of the space you've got."

Who's in your house?

If you are a group of people who live, or work, separately but within the same building and would like to be featured on this page, write to Who's in the House?, The Independent Magazine, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL, giving a contact phone number, your address, and details of the type of building you occupy. Please also include recent photographs (which you do not want returned) of your homes or offices.

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