Company ordered to return cash over theatre promise (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Make Believe Group company ordered to return cash over Shaw Theatre promise
A company has been ordered to pay compensation to an angry dad who claimed it broke a promise to arrange for his daughter to perform at a prestigious central London theatre.
Peter Northall signed his 10-year-old daughter, April, up with the Make Believe theatre company, who are based at King Solomon High School in Barkingside, early last year.
The 54-year-old photographer from Lewisham enrolled April for a show entitled Circle of Life, which Make Believe said would be put on at the Shaw Theatre in Euston.
Mr Northall said: "There was no charge for rehearsals or sign up fees, but they asked parents to sell a minimum of eight tickets for the show at a price of £25.
"That seemed like a good deal to me. April loves playing the piano, singing and performing and was incredibly excited about the prospect of appearing at a proper theatre."
April attended a number of rehearsals for the musical and proud dad Peter bought £200 worth of tickets.
But a few weeks before the show was due to open, parents received a letter from Make Believe’s founder Joel Kern.
He told parents that the Shaw Theatre was under new management and hire fees had been increased, meaning the production would be moving to the school hall at King Solomon.
Mr Northall said: "It’s not exactly on a par with a West End theatre is it?
"The only reason we signed up for this at all was because of the promise of the Shaw.
"April has appeared in plenty of school productions already. She was very upset about it."
Mr Northall withdrew April from the production and wrote to Make Believe demanding his £200 be refunded, but the company refused.
He said: "I told them I would take £100, but they still wouldn’t give me any money so I had no choice but to take them to a small claims court."
Mr Northall won his claim at Northampton County Court in March and Make Believe were ordered to pay him a total of £360.
He said: "I gave them the chance to pay me £100 and they did not take it.
"I still have not received any money from them even though they have been told to pay it.
"This is a matter of principle and I will get the bailiffs in if necessary."
Joel Kern, the founder of Make Believe, said: "Make Believe The Circle of Life Limited was producing a show at The Shaw Theatre last October.
"Unfortunately the venue had to be changed due to unforeseen circumstances. We notified the parents 8 weeks prior explaining the situation and if anyone had any questions or queries, they were able to contact myself."
Mr Kern has made an appeal for the County Court judgement to be set aside.
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