The Kallang Theatre started life as a five-story cinema run by Chong Gay Theatres. Opened on 23rd February 1970 as the Kallang Cinema, it was then the largest cinema in Singapore with 2,400 seats.
After more than a decade of movie screening, the theatre was converted to a live performance theatre as there was then a pressing need for another high-capacity venue for national- and international-level events due to the closure of the National Theatre at River Valley Road. The Government bought over the building to convert it to a medium-sized theatre partly because it would have been costly and time consuming to convert the 3,400-seat National Theatre from a semi-open theatre into a covered hall.
In March 1986, the National Theatre Trust moved to the Kallang Theatre which became a full-fledged live performance theatre. With 1744 seats in its large auditorium, Kallang Theatre held concerts, drama performances and important congregational and ceremonial functions.
When the Kallang Theatre re-opened in 1986, ballerinas from the Houston Ballet took to the stage in the inaugural performance of Swan Lake. Many will remember it as the theatre which hosted classic shows like Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat , Chicago the Musical and Miss Saigon.
Kallang Theatre also took over the demolished National Theatre as the venue for the annual National Day Rally. Former Prime Ministers the late Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong held their National Day Rallies at the theatre from 1986 to 2000. To this day, the room used by the Prime Ministers – the ‘Lee Kuan Yew Room’ as it is called, remains as one of the best kept rooms in the building.
The stage has a proscenium width of 15 m and an area of 252 sq m. It is equipped with up-to-date lighting and sound equipment and has an electronically operated orchestra pit. The two-levelled auditorium and backstage areas are fully airconditioned.
Other facilities within the Kallang Theatre complex include 10 dressing rooms, two large foyers and an internal car-park for 200 cars.
It is conveniently located within the new Singapore Sports Hub and has the Stadium MRT Station right at its doorstep.
The Kallang Theatre is now under the management of Asia Arts & Culture Pte Ltd.