Fashion and comedy on theatre's bill

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2012, 12:00am


Hong Kong's bastion of Cantonese opera will host fashion shows and stand-up comedy as part of a diverse line-up of events to help keep the North Point venue open.

The refurbished Sunbeam Theatre reopened yesterday, three months after it was saved at the last minute from permanent closure by opera writer Li Kui-ming.

Li said the theatre was fully booked until January with plays, concerts and fashion parades, although he declined to name the Italian fashion house that has booked the venue, saying only that it is a brand Hongkongers would be familiar with.

He also reassured fans it was unlikely they would have to bid farewell to the Sunbeam any time soon thanks to the increased revenue.

Chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying and celebrated Cantonese opera actress Hung Sin-nui were among the fans and performers who packed the theatre yesterday for its official reopening.

Hung, 88, travelled from her home in Guangzhou to perform her signature piece Praise of Lychee.

The new schedule for the theatre begins in earnest tomorrow with a seven-show run of the Cantonese opera Smart Kong Ming, starring Joyce Koi Ming-fai and Ng Mei-ying. The shows are all sold out.

Lisa Wang, who is both a seasoned Cantonese opera actress and Canto-pop star, will put on 20 shows at the theatre over the Christmas and New Year period.

Audiences will also be able to catch 3-D films and stand-up comedy at the venue. A second-floor exhibition area will display photographs of former Miss Hong Kong Olivia Cheng and paintings by seven-year-old artist Kenny Lau Kin-gi.

Li - who signed a four-year-lease in February with landlord Francis Law Sau-fai when the theatre was on the brink of closure - said having more events would be a great help to the theatre's revenue.

'I don't feel any pressure [that the Sunbeam will face closure again] now,' he said. 'We actually think the situation will be quite stable and our co-operation with the owner will be long term.'

He expected the HK$10 million he put into the theatre's renovation to be repaid in three years, but he had no plans to raise ticket prices.

It was the third time in seven years the theatre had been saved, following crises in 2005 and 2009.

Leung pulled the strings behind the scenes in February to save the Sunbeam by introducing Li to Law.

And he said yesterday that he was happy to have had 'a little bit of effort' in saving the theatre.

Increasing the number of performance venues in Hong Kong would be an important part of his administration's cultural policy, he added.