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Shaw Cinemas, Post War, Singapore (1945-1970)

Amateur Night, Capitol, 1961

Another popular cinema innovation for its time was the 'dual purpose' hall. Until the early 1980s, Shaw cinemas throughout the circuit not only screened movies, but also had 'live' shows and events.

Some of these were meant for promoting films, and were usually held about half-hour before the last two movie shows of each day. Others were pure entertainment.

Popular imported shows made their way into Shaw cinema halls in Singapore from the earliest days. Among the them was the first ever ice show in Malaya held in the Capitol in 1951. There were 2 shows on weekdays and 3 shows on weekends and they featured 40 international ice skating stars including the 1949 Olympic champions - Elvire Collins and Fernand Leemand.


A dance event at the Oriental Theatre, Singapore, 1960s

Ice Show, Capitol, 1951
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Sorcar the Magician, 1952

Visiting magicians never failed to draw crowds. One of the earliest was Sorcar the Magician. He was an Indian illusionist who played to sold out houses in India, Rangoon, London, Paris and Chicago. During his performance in the Capitol in 1952, he had local doctors mystified with his daring 'tongue cutting' act.

Arguably the most popular magic act was the 'John Calvert Magic Show' in 1961 at the Sky Theatre. John Calvert, America's No. 1 magician at the time, thrilled the audience with his world famous illusions.

Dancing shows, too, never failed to pack houses, like the 1953 'Miss Queenie Paul' dance troups from Australia. The dancers - two blondes and 6 brunettes thrilled the crowds at the Capitol with their sexy numbers. Another dancing extravaganza, the Conty Girl Midnight Follies revue, was held at the Capitol in 1958 which featured German dancing girls.

Vocal artists from all over the world performed on stage through the years. These ranged from the Tong Pei Pei concert in Capitol on her famous 'Rose, rose I love you' tour in 1952 to the 2 hour Jane Russell Show at the Sky Theatre in 1967.

Local celebrities and semi-professional performers also drew crowds. One such event was the 'Musical Express' event launched by Johnny Young at the Capitol on April 2, 1967. It was an early morning show held only on Sundays, at 9 am.


Miss Singapore contest, 1962

Sun Kissed Beauties of Miss Queenie Paul, 1953

Wang Sa and Ya Fong comedy duo, Singapore

Jane Russell show, 1967

Through the years, Musical Express featured local singing sensations such as Rita Chow, Sakura, and bands such as The Quests. Local comedians such as Wang Sa and Yeh Fong also played to packed houses in this 1 hour show.

Beauty contests were another stage sensation. In the early 1960s, the franchise for the World Beauty Congress was exclusively held by Shaw for Singapore, Malaya and Borneo. In Singapore, Miss Singapore would be a major event at the Capitol annually. Winners not only walked away with prizes worth over a couple of thousand dollars, they went on to compete in the 'Miss International Beauty Congress Competition' in Long Beach, California. The Miss Malaysia and Miss Borneo would be held at the Federal in Kuala Lumpur and Rex, in Kuching respectively.


Conty Girl Midnight Follies, Capitol, 1958
 

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