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Just in case you don't already know, it wasn't until recent years that I started to take a liking to opera and classical music. It was thus perfectly normal that I hardly step foot into one of Singapore's oldest iconic building, the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall. If I could recall, my last performance (or only performance) there was to catch The Dim Sum Dollies' "Little Shop Of Horrors". It was a birthday treat to Sr. Wendy by the Princesses, and we found out that she has a rock star nephew - Dave Tan from local band, Electrico.

Standing nearly 150 years on the grounds of Singapore’s Civic District, the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall will soon close its doors in June 2010 for an extensive two-and-half year renovation, before reopening in 2013. It was the most appropriate opportunity for The Singapore Arts Festival 2010 to speak of the building's history, grandeur and memories in a series of backstage tours.

The hour and a half tour started in the scotching sun at the fountain where the smaller black Sir Stamford Raffles stands. Interestingly, I learnt many things about building which I never knew.

- The building was constructed as a Town Hall in 1862 but in memory of the late Queen Victoria (1901) converted to Victoria Memorial Hall and underwent renovations to turn it into a theatre. The makeover project was completed in 1909.

- John Bennet, architect of the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall also built other iconic buildings around Singapore - Raffles Lighthouse and detailed work on Saint Andrew's Cathedral.

- The building survived the air raids of World War II. Many concert goers were captured during a performance to be prisoners of war. As numerous were themselves musicians, they played for the Japanese during the period of Japaneses Occupation.

- The bronze Sir Stamford Raffles statue originally sat on the fields of the Padang. During soccer games, excited spectators will disrespectfully climb all over 'the founder of Singapore' for a better view. It was moved to the front of the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall in 1962.

Probably the longest standing ticket booth in Singapore

You chose your seats from this light box

Going behind the scenes

A brief overview of what went on in the Projection Room. Does anyone have any idea why the light in the room blue?

We were told by Tour Guide, Rita; to stick our heads out of the projection room window and take a deep breath of HISTORY. I replied, "Sure! OK, I'll do it!"
The classic red chairs will disappear when the renovation completes.

The props room

The waiting room

It was here that we were told numerous 'friendly' stories about the wondering lady spirit and the door of makeup room 13 that never opens!

The most bizarre story had to be the one on National Day 2008. All 4 clock faces on the tower display time in sync. However, that faithful day, all 4 clock faces were showing different times! A day later, without any human intervention, the timing miraculously were in sync and accurate again!

Wendy and I deduced that this is not a suitable place for Sharon to visit!

We were literally under the stage. An unused trap door. It got abandoned after years of being too cranky

The backstage exit where performers zip away if they want to escape from crazy fans

The guided tours end 12 June 2010. A worthy experience of a slice of old Singapore history cause who knows what the new renovation will bring.

PS. Discovered a write up on the same tour from one of the guys in my guided tour. I appeared in 2 of his pictures. Fortunately in a distance and not very recognizable! He has a strange sense of humour.

Wishing I had more time at the festivals
Singapore Arts Festival 2008 Opening Celebration - Water Fools
The 2007 Arts Festival Round Up

More Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall Backstage Tour Pictures

1 comment:

  1. lights in the projection room are in blue to prevent light spill. blue has the shortest wavelength


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