Julian Bray writes: Peterborough residents will have read about the very sad and money minded latest attempt to deny the rapidly growing number of City of Peterborough new residents access to a proper size 1,200 seat theatre, capable of taking in large touring and West End productions.
The Broadway was acquired as a distress sale by Mr Fasulo when Peter Boizots Mistvalley Ltd company, was put into liquidation, and all the Peterborough operations Broadway, Gastons, Miss Pears, Great Northern Hotel and in London Kettners of Soho wound up, and the properties sold/ disposed to meet company debt.
Within weeks of opening, The 1,200 seater Broadway Theatre and full West End big screen Cinema was originally offered to the Peterborough City Council who turned it down, fearing the Key would suffer... waiting in the wings was Mr. Fasulo who picked it up for a 'peppercorn', with an eye of turning it into a supercasino.
That idea was knocked back. So realistically if the original distress sale documents can be produced, and the council offered say £900,000:00 based on the current planning permission as a theatre/cinema it would be a viable option, and I suggest return the current owner a substantial profit, who then in turn would then be finally recognised and remembered by the City as positively contributing to its future and able to give up being so reclusive!
The Stage report below catalogues the troubled history, but what isn't known is that Boizot was set to close the theatre within weeks of it originally opening when the Ambassadors Theatre Group, in a long detailed letter, said they would not be interested in taking it over.
Julian Bray who back in the 70's had (alongside other interests) a wine bar in Fulham Road ( as mentioned in the Antonio Carluccio book - Antonio being a regular almost nightly customer of the then Brays Wine Bar ) had earlier met Boizot in the 70's, who had just opened a Pizza Express opposite the Brays Wine Bar in Chelsea.
A chance meeting many years later in 2001, at Gastons in Peterborough, Peter Boizot said he was having second thoughts on the theatre/cinema venture, but Julian Bray persuaded Boizot on the spot, to give it another go, and keep the theatre open for six months, with Julian hired on a personal consultancy deal with the great man. Julian having worked with other London theatres, producers and directors.
The deal done in Gastons, the adjoining 'Boizot' pizza and steak grill restaurant, on a paper table cloth and signed by Boizots in his traditional green ink pen. Within weeks the cinema had a deal with an Independent film booker to show the first Harry Potter film and a regular slate of WEST END first releases, this greatly upset the multiplex at the time, the live show programme rapidly filled with visiting producers, playing to full houses, 1,200 seats filled. Top names managements trusting the venue to keep to its side of the contracts. Trust in the theatre business is vey important, word gets around very quickly.
On the opening week of the first Harry Potter film, Gastons Pizza Restaurant turned over £23,000.00. On the first screening of the Harry Potter film during the interval some £ 3,500.00 worth of sweets, popcorn, Ice Cream and Cola was sold in just 20 minutes.
Unfortunately what was not known at that early time was that the company Mistvalley Ltd (Sole Director P. Boizot) had substantial money problems. The well had run dry. Boizot having sold his embryonic Pizza Express chain (but keeping Kettners of Soho) had poured literally millions into the Peterborough Football Club and he lamented 'Barclays Bank has a further one million of his money as a surety'.
The onerous commercial securities secured on properties, all arranged by his nephew Matthew (son of Boizots sister) were abruptly called in, along with Kettners in Soho being visited by Bailiffs over unpaid back rent owing to the landlord, non other than the strip king Paul Raymond, who owned just about all of Soho.
The point of all this is simply The Broadway Theatre Peterborough is not only commercially viable, but a huge financial and commercial asset to this City, but it has to be ruthlessly marketed. Bill Kenwright has shown the way....
Bill Kenwright used television, bus sides, newspaper and billboard advertising to trumpet his seasons of back to back live theatre productions. The advertising also did what the council has failed to do for years, broadcast and attract huge new audiences TO THIS CITY.
Peterborough as a destination City is back! Peterborough exists, for those brief seasons Bill Kenwright put Peterborough firmly on the map.
Without the Broadway seasons, we would not have attracted thousands of extra people daily into the City Centre and the setting up of some of the leading chain restaurants. Imagine what is likely to happen IF the councillors agree to give the current owner a change of use?
The flats look like something knocked up in East Germany, on an estate near Erfurt to be precise. That whole end of the Broadway will be lost and Peterborough will be known by potential business directors as a place to avoid, as it cannot even sustain a 1,200 seat theatre. ....for its thousands of employees seeking to move into the area.
With a modest budget and working with producers such as Bill Kenwright, the Broadway open six days a week for live performance and possibly an Asian Bollywood Cinema on Sundays (as is tradition) the Broadway will finally come into its own and be a huge asset for this City.
Julian Bray and others will be putting a formal objection in to the change in planning permission as to change the use of this valuable theatre cinema with its original Odeon Art Deco auditorium to what is a lash up of retaining the existing new build frontage and new build dressing room block at the back of the plot trashing the auditorium, destroying the art deco interior is to use Steve Potts expression 'tragic.'
It seem the council can throw substantial money, many millions at a football pitch and part stadium and a questionable off shore commissions for the Fletton Quays development, but when it come to providing entertainment and cultural relaxation, although Gillian Beasleys new chums in Cambridge can sustain four theatres, all we can do is run a 400 seat provincial Key Theatre, but even that goes dark during the high revenue earning Summer months, as its turned over to endless months of childrens activities... Simply if Bill Kenwights acts as anchor visiting producer, filling up the remainder and possibly creating a resident company of actors. This will greatly add to the cultural aspirations of this City, might event put a dent in the budget debt as well!
Bill Kenwright’s theatre company has hit out against a “tragic” plan to convert Peterborough’s Broadway Theatre into luxury flats. Reports THE STAGE Newspaper
The venue has been mostly dark since its closure in 2011 but has staged two seasons of work by Bill Kenwright Limited – one in 2013 and another over the 2015 festive period, finishing in January 2016.
But owner Rinaldo Fasulo has now commissioned DT Architects to design the theatre’s conversion into a block of 56 apartments – dubbed Broadway Roof Gardens.
The designs have not yet been submitted as a planning application, but the theatre is currently on the market for a new buyer who could take on the building with planning consent or apply for a new plan.
Bill Kenwright Limited executive director Steve Potts said it would be “tragic” for Peterborough to lose the theatre, and claimed BKL would “certainly return if there was the right opportunity”.
He said: “The Broadway has huge potential as proven time and again by BKL’s productions and indeed its seasons there. But without the Broadway either being owned by the City of Peterborough or run in partnership with a theatre operator, there is only so much one producer can do.”
In his statement about the conversion attempt, Potts said he’d be “surprised and disappointed” if the change of use was given planning permission.
The Broadway Theatre closed in 2011 after then manager Paul Coxwell led the venue into financial difficulty, leaving producers and suppliers owed “several hundred thousand pounds”.
In August 2014, Coxwell was convicted of fraud and breaching court orders, and sentenced to more than three years in jail.
Fasulo could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.
https://parkfarmneighbourhoodwatch.blogspot.com E&OE google.com/+JulianBray Tel:+44 (0) 1733 345581