The West

Lease loss will not end Astor
Owner Bruno Zimmermann outside the Astor Theatre in Mt Lawley.

The curtain comes down on the current managers of the Astor Theatre on Monday but the landlord says the show will go on at the venue.

Tenant Astor WA P/L will have to vacate the popular Mt Lawley theatre after losing a Supreme Court battle this week to extend its lease another five years.

The lease expires at midnight on Monday.

Shows booked over the next week include comedian Matt Okine, soprano Marina Prior and soul act Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. About 90 acts are listed for dates well into next year.

On Thursday, Supreme Court judge John Chaney ruled in favour of landlord Bruno Zimmermann that Astor WA, a company involving promoters Ken and Chris Knight, invalidly exercised its option to renew its lease.

The matter was complicated because of divisions among directors of the company.

Mr Zimmermann said the heritage-listed theatre would continue as a performance venue.

His lawyers were working to achieve a smooth exit of the tenants and a transition to new management, to apply to protect the liquor licence and would speak to agents and promoters of booked acts.

"All the action I have taken was entirely in the interest of the Astor surviving and under the current system it would not have survived," Mr Zimmermann said.

"It is a very important place for the Mt Lawley community who have valued the venue there. The Astor will have business as usual."

Chris Knight was optimistic about an orderly and seamless transition in management, despite the lease expiring in just a few days.

"There are 9000 tickets sold and 90 acts booked and if that was to be unravelled there would be chaos in the music industry," he said.

"We are going to sit down at the weekend and draw up a plan for the transfer of the contract and ticketing to make sure the people of WA and the acts are not affected so the shows due to happen at the Astor will happen."

Mr Zimmermann bought the Astor in 1996 when it was under threat of being turned into a food court and supermarket and pushed for it to be heritage listed.

He spent $1.5 million on renovations and ran it as a cinema until dwindling audiences and restricted access to films forced him to close the venue in 2008. He leased it to the current tenants in 2009.

The West Australian

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