Iconic theatre and place of nostalgia for many Hongkongers
Hong Kong’s most iconic theatre
The mention of Lee Theatre brings back fond memories to many Hong Kong people. What is now Lee Theatre Plaza used to be the city’s most iconic theatre. Concerts, movie premieres, and boxing matches were held here, and the theatre was even the venue for the 1976 Miss Universe finale with Roman Polanski and Aldo Gucci as jury members. This event, which was broadcasted worldwide, was a memorable moment for the whole city.
A cultural icon
With its beautifully crafted boxes, red carpets, and red velvet seats, the theatre was built in the 1920s as a first-rate performance venue in Asia. Lee Hysan, the patriarch of the Lee family, spared no expense to create the first Beaux-Arts style theatre, modelled after the architecture of Parisian theatres in the early 20th century. The local newspapers reported that: “More than 200 skilled craftsmen from Shanghai had been specially employed to construct the façade!”
Chinese opera venue
The theatre was originally purpose-built for Cantonese operas. Lee’s mother was an avid opera fan, so he wanted to create a world-class venue for her favourite performers near her home. In its early years of operation, the 1200-seat theatre auditorium could only be used for movie screenings and concerts on non-opera days. Lee Theatre was so popular that Hong Kong Tramways ran a special late-night service from the theatre all the way to Shek Tong Tsui. The theatre was demolished in 1991, but the memories of this unique venue live on in the hearts of Hong Kongers. For the nostalgia-inclined, the Hong Kong Museum of History has a replica of the theatre, and there is a dedicated exhibition to the area’s illustrious past in Lee Gardens I.
A final farewell
Lee Theatre has been the home to many memorable moments, such as Theresa Teng’s concert series, Anita Mui’s debut in a 1982 talent show, and Roman Tam’s first concert in 1978. Roman also had the honour of being the very last singer to perform at Lee Theatre. His charity concert, named “Farewell to Lee Theatre” was held in 1991, just before the building was demolished.