SINGAPORE: The historic Capitol Theatre will reopen in April 2015 with the staging of a musical that depicts the lives and struggles of Singaporeans, including former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, as they built a new nation.
When restored to its former glory, Capitol Theatre will feature cutting-edge audio and visual systems, as well as the nation's first computerised rotational floor system.
The details were announced at a topping-out ceremony held earlier on Thursday.
It has been 16 years since Capitol Theatre screened its last movie and come next April, the iconic theatre will play host once again to not just movie screenings, but also concerts, musical performances and even gala events.
The art-deco architecture and sculptures that flanked the stage have been painstakingly conserved.
Developer Capitol Investment Holdings says the theatre will have close to 1,000 seats and will pack high-tech features, including a rotational floor.
Capitol Investment Holdings is a joint venture company comprising Perennial Real Estate Holdings, Pontiac Land Group and Osim's Mr Ron Sim.
"The seats are tiered up, sloping. When we press a button, within eight minutes, these seats will all be hidden and it becomes a flat floor. So we can use it for other events,” said Pua Seck Guan, vice chairman and president of Perennial Real Estate Holdings.
“Sometimes, you have musical shows that come with gala dinners, so that system allows us to either make it flat or make it tiered to put in a round table dinner setting."
Observers say preserving the iconic theatre and its features provides an important link to the past.
"It is stunning to a certain extent. Those should be kept, and remain there to remind Singaporeans of our past,” said Associate Professor Foo Tee Tuan, deputy director at UniSim Centre for Chinese Studies.
“It was once one of the five old cinema theatres in Singapore and so I will say to a certain extent it should position itself as a premium place for screening local films. It should broaden itself to becoming the capital of not only Singapore cinema, but also Southeast Asian cinema."
The opening act will be "Singapura - The Musical", produced by The 4th Wall Theatre Company.
The musical will travel to London's West End and Broadway in New York following its Singapore debut.
A private and invitation-only "listening preview", featuring a number of songs from the musical, will be held later this month.
The musical depicts the lives and struggles of Singaporeans and of former minister mentor Lee Kuan Yew in their journey to build a nation. It is now in the final stages of the production process.
The theatre is part of a S$1.1 billion integrated development called Capitol Singapore.
The development includes a luxury 157-room hotel -- The Patina -- located at the former Capitol Building and Stamford House, as well as a four-storey upmarket retail mall and 39 high-end apartments.
It will also house Singapore's first ever six-storey basement with direct access to City Hall MRT station.
“The most challenging (problem) is actually going down to the basement,” said Mr Pua.
"We have gone down to six basements and connected to the MRT, and we are only allowed to do night work, by closing the North Bridge Road.
"That part of the work is very tedious. We open up at night, finish up to a certain stage and the next morning, must cover up the road. That is technically very challenging but we have so far overcome it.”
The developer says the majority of the development, including the retail mall will be opened by the end of this year. - CNA/xq/ec
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