By finding a connection in the ticket line, Hopkins Center ticketing staff complete the artistic experience for customers with enthusiasm and heart.
Over the past year, many events at the Hopkins Center have returned to their live format. Student ushers and will call workers largely facilitate the plays, musicals and concerts that Dartmouth students and Upper Valley patrons attend.
Jenique Richards ’22, currently Senior House Manager at The Hop, coordinates show punctuality and oversees other ushers during productions at The Hop and cites her job as an integral part of her time at Dartmouth as she has worked her way up the ranks in the world of bailiff students since his fall in first year.
She describes her role as one of ensuring excellence and providing a good experience for all Hopkins Center customers.
“The best way to describe the whole front of house is that we’re basically between when you buy your ticket at the box office and then obviously the show itself,” Richards said. “So when you come to the theater and pick up your tickets, we make sure the customer gets there.”
However, Richards wears more than one hat in his role as the “middleman” between ticket purchase and artistic experience. In addition to making sure productions start on schedule, she manages room ushers and takes notes during events to record customer satisfaction and turnaround for her bosses.
Gwendolyn Roland ’25, one of the ushers Richards oversees, assumed appeal and usher responsibilities this fall. Her role is to show customers to their seats, perform COVID-19 health checks and, when working on call, ensure customers get their tickets.
“I really enjoy being around theater,” Roland said. “I love being around the Hop – and just being able to see all the art shows and not having to worry about, ‘oh fuck, I don’t have time to see it because I did these other planes.’ It’s on my schedule. Everyone I work with is really great too.
Connor Schafer ’25 expressed a similar appreciation for the closeness his job as an usher gives him to Dartmouth’s art scene.
“I did a lot of theater in high school, but with this job I can still experience it and be a part of it,” Schafer said. “The bosses are super nice. They love Hop and they love going to shows. A lot of them still come to a show every weekend and I think that’s super cool.
Schafer said he found the opportunity to develop relationships with regular customers and the strong sense of community present among the workers to be particularly rewarding characteristics of the job.
“I think it’s very rewarding when you start working a number of shifts and you start seeing the regulars who have Hop season passes and come to every show,” Roland said. “It’s just me and the person I work with, complimenting older clients on their fashion sense. We’re like, ‘What’s your last name? Oh, I love your hat. I love your jacket .'”
Stephanie Trembley, who in her role as ticketing manager oversees both customer ticketing experiences and student staff, spoke about her experience interacting and working with Dartmouth students.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with a lot of really great students,” Trembley said. “They are smart, respectful, responsible and just getting to know them individually has been really rewarding. There are a lot of negative experiences that come to mind – whether it’s an angry customer or someone not passing health checks – but a lot of great things are happening at box office.
Trembley is referring to the health screens required by the Hopkins Center’s COVID-19 protocols. When a customer purchases a ticket for a show, they must present Dartmouth ID, a vaccination card, or a negative test result.
“It’s always very sad to have to send someone home who forgot their vaccination card,” Roland said. “There were a few times we had to do that. Sometimes they live very close, run home and get their IDs. But sometimes they lived an hour away and it was about five minutes before the show started.
Despite the restrictions, Richards, Roland, Schafer and Trembley have all praised The Hop’s artistic offerings during the pandemic.
Roland and Trembley particularly enjoyed Venezuelan singer Nella Rojan’s performance at the Hopkins Center last fall.
“That was probably my favorite show I’ve seen here,” Trembley said. “Being here opened my eyes to more different types of music, as well as theater performances and dance performances that I wouldn’t necessarily have been interested in.”
Schafer appreciated the opportunity to engage with new and unfamiliar content.
“I loved seeing independent or international films that I wouldn’t normally seek out,” Schafer said. “It’s surprising what the Hop somehow finds because it allows, you know, to diversify what you watch.”
Richards recalled a particularly memorable change from her freshman year, when she ushered in former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to the Spaulding Auditorium.
“It was the biggest event I’ve ever done, and it was crazy because of the security — and pretty much every student at Dartmouth wanted to be there,” Richards said.
According to Trembley, the visitor experience is always at the forefront of the minds of event staff.
“All of us here in the Hop are really keen on bringing these shows to the Dartmouth community and the Upper Valley in general,” Trembley said. “We are working very hard to make this a great experience for everyone.”