Threatened theatre stages Aladdin

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CAMPAIGNERS against the closure of an historic theatre in Portsmouth want to set up a trust that will keep it alive.

St Peter’s Theatre, in Fraser Road, Somers Town, will be closed by St Peter’s Church, which owns the building, at the end of the month.

Ben Tanner who is playing his first role with The Phoenix Players as Aladdin.''Picture: Sarah Standing (13149-2465)

Ben Tanner who is playing his first role with The Phoenix Players as Aladdin.''Picture: Sarah Standing (13149-2465)

Though the church doesn’t plan to sell the building, it wants to find another use for it.

It announced its plans 18 months ago after realising the theatre wasn’t making any money.

But members of the Save St Peter’s Theatre Campaign believe the venue, which is 91 years old, is still an important asset to the community and want to run it.

The theatre’s last production Aladdin, which is being performed by The Phoenix Players, will run until the end of next weekend.

Last night’s show was called off because of heavy snow.

Jane Hartley, assistant director for The Phoenix Players and an active member of the campaign group, said: ‘We’re looking to form a trust which will run the theatre.

‘We don’t have the money to buy it outright, but would look to lease it off someone else.

‘The theatre is fantastic.

‘We don’t want to lose the facilities that we have got there.

‘They’re used by a range of local amateur dramatic groups.

Portsmouth City Council wants to arrange discussions between the campaign group and the church in the hope a deal can be made.

The group has also applied to the council to make the theatre a community asset, which means that if it goes up for sale local people can put down an offer first.

Mike Allgrove, assistant head of planning services at the council, said: ‘Legislation came in last year which allows specific sites to be registered as local community assets.

‘The group campaigning about St Peter’s Theatre is preparing such an application and we are advising on this to help them include the relevant information.’

Full details of the Aladdin production are at the Phoenix Players website