If there’s something strange
In the Concert Hall
Who you gonna call?
If there’s something weird
In the Theatre stalls
Who you gonna call?
Lighthouse has its very own team of Grossbusters and since they’ve been issued with new backpack vacuum cleaners, Maxine Sharman and the wonderful cleaning team are better equipped than ever for a rapid clean up response.
Lighthouse would be a very different place were it not for their often unsung efforts. They’re here early in the morning and are on hand throughout the day to make sure everything is spick and span front of house, backstage and in the immediate vicinity outside as well. If there’s a mess, who we gonna call?
“It’s a lovely place to work, you never know what each day is going to bring,” she says.
Asked what single thing she couldn’t do her job without, Maxine’s response is immediate: “The rest of the team. They are all really lovely and funny, as well as hard working. I’m very lucky, as every day working with them is a pleasure.”
Those backpacks – named Ghostie and Slimer because they look like proton packs from the film Ghostbusters – have revolutionised the job.
“We love them. Before we got them, we used extension cables and they kept getting caught on the seats. They’re a bit heavy but they make it so much easier getting along the rows.”
As they take their 9am break, Nee, Carol and Handan all nod in agreement, as would Charlie and the team’s longest serving member Michelle (18 years) if they were in on the early shift. They’ve already been hard at it for two hours, working to a flexible rota of cleaning jobs that need to be done each day and others that are done as and when required.
“If there’s nothing in the Theatre the night before then there’s no need to clean up the next morning, but we make sure all the main public areas are clean and tidy, all the toilets, offices and foyers.
“Our job is a bit different to most people’s here because when we leave it everything is calm and quiet, but when we come in the next morning it can look like all hell has broken loose!”
Everyone nods in agreement, Carol adding that glitter is a curse, along with streamers and confetti. Panto season is hard work for them, but every year without fail it’s all forgiven as soon as they see the show.
Then Nee chips in with Maltesers, especially when they’ve been crushed underfoot and trodden into the carpet. That prompts discussion of the absolute worst things the team has had to clear up… and it’s not pretty. It’s really not.
“There are things people wouldn’t do in their own homes,” says Maxine, “so why come here and do it? We have to clear it up and it’s disgusting. I actually think it has got worse since we came out of the Covid lockdowns. I don’t know why, but people are ruder, less considerate and on occasion downright filthy. We never see them of course.”
Also unseen for some time are the resident ghosts. Previously, there have been reports of an old lady with long curly hair in the Cinema as well as an old man and elderly lady enclosed in balls of light. In the Studio a mystery man in t-shirt and jeans has been seen as has an old lady in Victorian dress and on stage a technician once reported reaching out to stop a young child playing – his arms went straight through her.
Nee still talks about hearing a woman singing in the Studio: “I was in there one morning and I heard this humming. It was lovely music, a lady’s voice, high pitched, sort of angelic, and it started far away and then got closer and closer to me until it was humming right in my ear. I called the others in on the radio, but it had stopped.”
Maxine though remains slightly sceptical: “I keep going in the Cinema and the Studio when the lights are off to see if they’re in there, but no sign so far. Come on, ghosts, where are you? I challenge them to show themselves!”
Shy ghosts notwithstanding, plenty of strange things do show up at Lighthouse. Members of the team disturbed a woman in a sleeping bag in one of the Function Rooms two mornings running. Carol reports finding a single sock recently, but best of all is Anton Du Beke’s after shave*.
“Oh, it smells lovely,” says Maxine. “I love it when he’s here as you can still smell it in his dressing room the next morning. When he was here a couple of weeks ago I was walking along corridor by Theatre dressing rooms and smelt it and thought: ‘A-ha! Anton’s in the building!”
* We checked with his management and Anton Du Beke uses Creed Aventus.