Peterborough’s Broadway Theatre is to reopen, hosting performances for the first time since it shut in 2011.
At the time of the closure, operator StageLive owed hundreds of thousands of pounds to producers, suppliers and ticket buyers.
Boasting 1,200 seats, the venue will now open under new management in October, with an 11-week season programmed by Bill Kenwright Ltd, one of the producers left owed money when the theatre shut two years ago. Its programme will feature seven BKL touring productions, including Marti Pellow in Evita, Will Young in Cabaret, Tommy Steele in Scrooge and a Christmas run of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Promoted by Peterborough Leisure and arts provider Vivacity, the season will run from October 30 to January 11.
The Broadway Theatre has had a chequered history over the last few years.
In 2009, it closed following a suspected arson attack, remaining dark until early 2011 when it was announced it would reopen in February under the management of a new company called StageLive. However, following an investigation by The Stage, it emerged that StageLive’s chief executive Paul Parker was, in fact, disgraced theatre producer Paul Coxwell, who had been jailed in 2009 for £500,000 of VAT fraud.
Parker was later ousted from the theatre following complaints from visiting producers about the way in which the building was being run, with the venue closing in August 2011 as producers and suppliers were left owed hundreds of thousands of pounds. Bill Kenwright Limited was one of Stagelive’s creditors – owed in the region of £100,000 – while the building’s owner Rinaldo Fasulo also claimed he was due more than £20,000 in unpaid rent.
Speaking this week, Steve Potts, commercial director of BKL, revealed he had signed a ‘four walls’ deal with Fasulo, meaning that BKL would have complete control over the venue for the length of the season, including responsibility for the box office.
He told The Stage: “We are reopening it. BKL is taking the theatre on for about 11 weeks. We’ll be taking all of our major shows there. We’re renting the space and making slight modifications to the stage. We’ve already changed the front of the stage – it’s quite curved and therefore quite shallow – so we’ve extended the front. It should now be able to take all manner of shows.”
Potts added he was not ruling out a more long-term deal for the venue and he was open to approaches from producers who might want to visit the Broadway after BKL’s final show closes in January.
“The landlord’s desire is to either find a long lease partner or to sell it. I think this could open up those kind of opportunities potentially,” he said. “But we’re not thinking too far beyond this season at the moment. We want this season to be a success and we want Peterborough to have the kind of shows it deserves because two years ago was the last time that they had shows in the theatre. It’s not been used since then.
“It adds another theatre into the mix for producers who are touring shows – I’ve had a couple of preliminary conversations with presenters who have had thoughts about what they might do on Sundays or during the day during the season we are there, and I’m open to anyone saying to me, ‘Why don’t we do this straight after Blood Brothers?’, which closes on January 11.”
Potts added he was organising staffing for the theatre at the moment and was looking to appoint a general manager in the next couple of weeks.