Make Believe Group company ordered to return cash over Shaw Theatre promise

Peter Northall and daughter April

Peter Northall and daughter April

First published in News
Last updated
East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter

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.

Comments (3)

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1:57pm Thu 9 May 13

Cornbeefur says...

Why is Mr Northall subjecting this young girl to such potential ridicule and disappointment? Look what happened to Zena Laperoni when she could not handle the come down from the pedestal she was launched onto?
Why is Mr Northall subjecting this young girl to such potential ridicule and disappointment? Look what happened to Zena Laperoni when she could not handle the come down from the pedestal she was launched onto? Cornbeefur
  • Score: 0

10:28am Fri 10 May 13

AMAEEssex says...

Cornbeefur, Good to see you are your usually cheery self. My daughter used to attend Make Believe and was in the same show, which was at the Shaw last year.
Neither she or I are under any illusion that this will project her to future stardom.
She joined Make Believe to learn some new skills, meet new friends, build a bit of self confidence and experience being part of a team. Although she was only in the chorus the look of pure joy and pride on her face when they sang and danced to I'm a Believer at the end of the show brought terars to my eyes. She is now with a similar organization and this year performing at the 02 with them. Rest assured, Mr Grumpy, that this does not mean she will be auditioning for XFactor or BGT anytime soon!
Cornbeefur, Good to see you are your usually cheery self. My daughter used to attend Make Believe and was in the same show, which was at the Shaw last year. Neither she or I are under any illusion that this will project her to future stardom. She joined Make Believe to learn some new skills, meet new friends, build a bit of self confidence and experience being part of a team. Although she was only in the chorus the look of pure joy and pride on her face when they sang and danced to I'm a Believer at the end of the show brought terars to my eyes. She is now with a similar organization and this year performing at the 02 with them. Rest assured, Mr Grumpy, that this does not mean she will be auditioning for XFactor or BGT anytime soon! AMAEEssex
  • Score: 0

10:33am Fri 10 May 13

AMAEEssex says...

Cornbeefur, was your incorrect spelling of Lena Zavaroni meant to be a joke or just ignorance? It is hard to tell sometimes.
Cornbeefur, was your incorrect spelling of Lena Zavaroni meant to be a joke or just ignorance? It is hard to tell sometimes. AMAEEssex
  • Score: 0

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