Tuesday, June 22, 2010

NST - Living the 1Malaysia dream

NST: Dennis Chua

Best friends (from left) Ganesh, Rahman and Cheong

Hafiz Suip makes the transition from Akademi Fantasia champion to theatre star in Kita The Musical, a heart-warming story set in 1970s Teluk Intan. DENNIS CHUA writes

PRODUCED by the creators of the acclaimed Prince Siddharta The Musical and Jewel Of Tibet, Kita The Musical is a heart-warming story of the Malaysian dream.

It also marks Akademi Fantasia 7 (AF7) champion Hafiz Suip’s debut as a theatre star.

Hafiz is perfect as Rahman, the protagonist who dares to dream beyond his small town and who never gives up despite setbacks.

Kuching-born Hafiz clearly made full use of the lessons he learnt from Puteri Gunung Ledang and P. Ramlee The Musical executive producer and AF7 principal Datin Seri Tiara Jacquelina.

He was a natural on stage, switching back and forth with ease from English to Malay in his dialogue. His vocal prowess was second to none. The only one to upstage him was opera and choir star Lim Cheng Hock who sang beautifully in Chinese about his character’s turbulent voyage from China to Malaya.

An effort by Musical On Stage Productions, the musical was directed and written by the company’s founder Ho Lin Huay. It features original music by longtime collaborator Imee Ooi.

Kita is set in 1970s Teluk Intan (then called Teluk Anson) and revolves around the lives of close pals Rahman, Ganesh (Astro Vaanavil Superstar 2009 winner Michael Rao) and Cheong (Astro Talent Quest 2001 winner Eric Lin) who meet in their school band and share a love of music.

Rahman’s father Hassan (Datuk Jalaluddin Hassan) is a village headman who fosters national unity via the Rukun Tetangga scheme.

Hassan wants Rahman to study overseas but he dies of a heart attack during the Merdeka celebrations.

Ganesh, meanwhile, is an orphan who lives with his grandmother Naini (Sukania Venugopal), a rubber tapper who suffers from a knee injury.

Ganesh aspires to be a successful businessman. Cheong lives with his father Chin (Lim), a widowed traditional medicine man who dreams of returning to China.

Cheong and his younger sister Chun Mei (Astro Talent Quest graduate Amy Wang), who aspires to be a fashion designer, think of themselves as Malaysians first and last.

Chin wants his son to inherit his business but Cheong aspires to pursue a degree in literature and become an educationist.

Ganesh is secretly in love with Chun Mei, and when Cheong discovers this, their friendship is strained.

Rahman falls in love with illiterate Kedahan lass Ayu (Nas Adila Mohd Dan) and teaches her to read and write. Alas, she is engaged to a relative back home.

In order to help Naini raise funds for her knee surgery, the boys form a Bee Gees-style pop group Kita and participate in the Bintang Malaysia talent search in Kuala Lumpur.

They emerge winners performing P. Ramlee’s Getaran Jiwa cabaret-style, and return home to a heroes’ welcome.

Years later, the boys, Chun Mei and Ayu reunite — they are now very successful in their respective fields — to celebrate Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia dream.

Set designer Pam Lim did a brilliant job crafting a mock “Leaning Tower” of Teluk Intan as the story’s centrepiece.

This “tower” descends from the ceiling and forms the meeting place of the boys.Real scenes of Teluk Intan were used as the background. The boys’ bus journey to Kuala Lumpur showed scenes taken along the old trunk road to the big city.

Even the old Teluk Anson bus station was “revived” as a prop.

Costumes, meanwhile, were designed by Zaaba Latiff. Johor-born Adila spoke impeccably in the Kedah Malay dialect, while Rao communicated in decent Hokkien and Mandarin. However, there is a lack of chemistry between Adila and Hafiz, who both competed in AF7.

Kita, which ends its 10-day run on June 27, is reminiscent of a Yasmin Ahmad film, thanks to its heart-warming, coming-of-age theme that celebrates all things Malaysian.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails