After its last movie screening almost 17 years ago, the curtains went up once more at the refurbished Capitol Theatre last night, as it rolled out the red carpet for more than 900 guests.
Theatregoers in dark jackets and evening dresses were treated to cocktails before the premiere of Singapura: The Musical.
Underneath the theatre's famous domed zodiac ceiling, the audience relived the decade leading to Singapore's independence through the US$2 million (S$2.7 million) production.
The theatre is part of the Capitol Singapore lifestyle-entertainment cluster, which includes shops, residences and a hotel.
While the 1929 theatre has been given a makeover, some parts of it have been preserved, including the two plaster Pegasus sculptures flanking the stage and the iconic "Capitol" signage.
Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, the guest of honour at the premiere, said the building is very much part of Singapore's heritage.
"There's always a tension in Singapore as we develop - what to keep, what not to keep - but this building... brings back lots of memories and as we go forward, we do need to pay attention to our past," he said.
The 1,600-seat cinema was a popular venue for watching Western and Hong Kong movies in its heyday.
But the theatre fell into disuse and operator Shaw Organisation submitted plans in the 1970s to redevelop Capitol Theatre and Capitol Building, but these fell through.
In 1984, the authorities acquired the buildings but leased the cinema to Shaw till 1998.
In 2010, the Capitol site was awarded to Capitol Investment Holdings, backed by Perennial Real Estate Holdings and Pontiac Land Group and its affiliates.
Events company director Vincent Wee, 53, who was at the premiere last night, used to watch movies at the cinema as a teen. "I remember the two Pegasus and the beautiful domed ceiling. I am glad they kept it there," he said.
This article was first published on May 23, 2015.
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