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Port Chester's Capitol Theatre Ushers In A New Era

Some of the ushers at The Cap.
Some of the ushers at The Cap. Photo Credit: Courtesy photo

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- You know a job is good when a) folks travel far with no complaints about the traffic and b) when turnover is low to non-existent.

Such is the life of the 100 or so ushers at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester who hail from Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Fairfield counties. "We've pretty much had the same usher team since we opened in 2012," said head usher Brian Lynch of Katonah. "Though we've added some along the way, nobody ever wants to quit."

Maybe that's because perks include seeing the shows, many of which include headliners like Bob Dylan, Robert Plant, Jeff Beck and Steve Winwood.

All are music aficionados; many, in fact, remember The Cap in its '70s heyday when they attended as teens and young adults. (The usher pool ranges from young adults to retirees.)

For Greenwich resident Susan Dedekam, who saw YES in their first U.S. tour at the Cap, ushering is a social experience that is icing on the cake to the music she gets to hear.

Jill Sanders-Demott of Mahopac concurs. "I really did this to hear music and share something with my husband (he's also an usher)," she said. "But the unexpected outcome was the opportunity to meet new people, hear their stories and share in their appreciation for the Cap."

The volunteer job basically entails ushering folks to their seats along with a certain amount of public relations and diplomacy skills with many ushers saying the the fun is in the camaraderie between both audience and colleagues and in the appreciation of the history (and legends) that have played in the theater. Stories about the Cap abound with many ushers rolling off dates and bands like they were yesterday.

One of them: When the Rolling Stones played in 1997, the front doors were left wide open as the theater expected a large crowd. Instead, hardly anyone showed, said Lynch, and the band planed to a half-empty theater.

Another, according to Bob Vita of Port Chester, is when Black Sabbath was booed off the stage. Then there's the one about Janis Joplin writing "Mercedes Benz" in the bar behind the theater, then performing it onstage that evening for the first time ever.

Plus one of the best of all: As a kid, Vita helped a then unknown Pink Floyd load their gear into the theater in 1970.

"For me," he said. "Working here 40 years later is a dream come true."?

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