SINGAPORE - A musical on Singapore's history, a local film about racial harmony here, a production of Hamlet by the acclaimed Globe Theatre - these are some of the upcoming shows at the Capitol Theatre when it opens on Tuesday.
Programming at the refurbished 977-seater, which can serve as a stage for theatre productions and a cinema, has been planned up to September this year.
The first few events are Singapore-related, as befitting Singapore's iconic Grande Dame in the Civic District.
First up will be Singapura: The Musical, a US$2-million (S$2.6-million) production about the story of a family set against the tumultuous days of 1950s and 1960s Singapore, working in historical events such as the Hock Lee bus riots of 1955 and the race riots of 1964. The run starts on Tuesday and ends on June 28.
Featuring a cast of Singaporeans and Filipinos, the musical is put on by Filipino-helmed theatre group The 4th Wall Theatre Company. A month after the musical ends, 7 Letters, a home-grown cinematic project by seven of Singapore's award-winning film directors, will be the first film screened there.
The portmanteau film project, which is part of the SG50 celebrations, will feature seven shorts by Royston Tan, Eric Khoo, Jack Neo, Kelvin Tong, Tan Pin Pin, Boo Junfeng and K. Rajagopal on the theme of personal stories connected to Singapore. The film will be shown from July 24 to 26. Ticket prices are not available yet.
Following that is the hotly anticipated 1965, where veteran actor Lim Kay Tong (above) plays Singapore's former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. The $2.8-million movie, which is helmed by director Randy Ang and executive producer Daniel Yun, has been slated to be released on July 30. The premiere will be held at the Capitol Theatre.
Completed in 1929, Capitol Theatre served as a theatre until the 1940s when Shaw Organisation turned it into its flagship cinema. It became a local nightlife institution, with moviegoers heading there for dates and social gatherings.
The last movie was screened in 1998, after which the building was returned to the Government and closed for business.
The new Capitol Theatre will be the biggest single-screen cinema in South-east Asia. It is also the only dual-purpose theatre in Singapore and can host arts and film events.
In September, the spotlight shifts from Singapore to Shakespeare. The Globe Theatre from Britain will put on Hamlet from Sept 8 to 12 as part of its Globe To Globe international tour marking the 450th anniversary of the Bard's birth.
Some theatre companies are already eyeing the theatre as a potential spot for their next performances.
The venue fills the gap for a mid-sized venue in the civic district area and adds to the performance venues in the vicinity.
Bigger venues include The Esplanade Theatre downtown, which has about 2,000 seats, and the 1,680-seater The Sands Theatre in Marina Bay Sands. Smaller venues include the 388-seat Jubilee Hall at Raffles Hotel, a short walk away, and the Drama Centre in Victoria Street which can take 615 people.
Local theatre group Toy Factory Productions says it will consider the venue if equipment such as lighting and sound boards are up-to-date and if it is staging long-running productions such as Titoudao, a crowd-pleasing play about a famous Chinese opera performer.
The company's artistic director Goh Boon Teck adds: "Our choice of venue depends on what we are staging. We also need a proper backstage area to create our special effects and for costume changes. From what is described, the backstage area sounds very feasible.
"And given Capitol's location, it would be great for tourist-friendly productions."
Mr Gaurav Kripalani, artistic director of Singapore Repertory Theatre, says: "We definitely need a fully equipped 1,000-seat theatre with ample wing space. The Capitol Theatre is beautifully renovated and certainly meets some of our demands, but it will be suitable for shows only of a certain size.
"We will consider it if we have a show that works well there."
This article was first published on May 16, 2015.
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