Disappointment for some Redbridge parents as off-West End show moved to school

Months of pride anticipating their children perform in a “spectacular” show “off London’s West End” turned to anger for parents after the show was transferred to a school hall with a leak in its roof.

The Make Believe theatre school, which has its headquarters in Barkingside, auditioned and trained about 150 children including from Redbridge, for a production advertised as: “An amazing experience...there is no fee for this opportunity.”

But parents were told they needed to sell a minimum of eight tickets, priced �15-�25, for their children to take part in the production in the Shaw Theatre, Euston.

Last week many expressed their disappointment, after the final shows were performed at King Solomon School, Forest Road, Barkingside – the company’s headquarters – which they claim had a leaking roof.

Make Believe director Joel Kern said he changed the venue after the Shaw Theatre put its prices up but the theatre denies this.

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He said: “The show was a huge success and the majority of parents really enjoyed it.”

An Ilford mum whose son and daughter took park in the show said: “My son was really upset.

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“My daughter has performed at the Royal Albert Hall so for her it wasn’t the be all and end all.

“But my son had never done something like that before. He really wanted to perform at the theatre.”

The Recorder has been contacted by 17 parents or grandparents expressing their disappointment, although other parents have backed the shows.

Mr Kern said he would not give any of the unhappy parents a refund because it cost him the same amount to put the show in the school – when allowing for hired lighting and seating.

He added: “We’ve not actually made money on the shows.”

He said there were “issues” with The Shaw Theatre, apart from the cost of hire, which he was unhappy about – meaning the venue had to change – but declined to say what they were.

Mr Kern also admitted there was a leak in the ceiling of the hall but said it had been dealt with promptly.

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