Liverpool's Epstein Theatre collapses into administration

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Liverpool's famous Epstein Theatre has collapsed into administration, but the company has insisted the show will go on over Christmas.

The historic playhouse, which first opened its doors in 1913 as Cranes Music Hall, has appointed FRP Advisory as administrator after falling behind on its rent payments.

FRP will continue to trade the theatre as normal, retaining all 30 staff, while a restructuring takes place.

Lila Thomas, partner at FRP, said: "The Epstein Theatre doors remain open for the entirety of the Christmas season and beyond.

"Talks are at an advanced stage with key stakeholders for a financial restructure ensuring operations continue as normal for all current bookings, planned future shows and to place the theatre within a more sustainable structure to allow for another generation of successful performances across the spectrum of entertainment."

Liverpool Council owns the freehold to the building, but the ownership structure is complicated by the presence of a long leaseholder, Hanover Estate Management.

Liverpool Council awarded David and Rebekah Pichilingi an 18-year contract to run the theatre in 2012, but it is understood to have racked up losses for several years.

The 380-capacity, Grade II listed theatre was refurbished in 2011 and is named in memory of Beatles manager Brian Epstein.

FRP's financial restructuring is aimed at making the council the primary leaseholder of the property.

The Peter Pan Christmas pantomime, due to open on December 8, will go ahead with an unchanged performance schedule.

Ms Thomas  added: "All theatre staff are being retained and paid as normal while a solution is finalised, and all existing contracts are being maintained for bookings, to ensure the show will go on for both theatre-goers and performers over the coming weeks while a transition to a new holding structure is agreed."