Thursday, October 18, 2007

P. Ramlee The Musical

Ok, you know how you have a throbbing head (as in a headache, not the other kind of throbbing ye), and you have to go through a whole day of work. Yeap... that's what I had to do today.

Pala da pening , berdenyut - felt like splitting open. Must have popped a dozen Panadols or so, sebab memang ada deadline nak abihkan, two covers and my column. Aduh... still, pushed on and in the end finished.

Ingat nak balik tidur terus - or just hang out nak make up for the torture of the whole day, tapi suddenly Adly came to me, kata Aqidah tak balik dari kampung lagi.

Meaning, someone had to go for P. Ramlee The Musical punya opening night. This cold, icky feeling crept over me.

Like it or not, teamwork ma, so terpaksa lah aku volunteerkan diri nak gi cover.

Don't get me wrong. I love musicals. I love theatre, Tapi after the overrated Puteri Gunung Ledang, which was substandard for me at best, aku cam horror sikit nak gi layan this one.

With a migraine, it's not going to be a pretty sight.

Still, duty calls, so hauled my ass to Istana Budaya. Sampai awal sangat, about 7pm. Muzaffar brought along Panadols to help kill the pain - thanks... tapi perlu ke siap explanation pelbagai ada memacam variety (apparently skang ada for fever and cold variety, plus a half a dozen others). Seb baik tak belikan Panadol Menstrual da.

Tu la akibatnya orang letih pas balik gym katanya (pengsan sat ada ngaku ke gym katanya).

So anyway, at about 7pm, it was werid sebab kalau observe the pic, this was one of the scenes I saw, which is workers still putting final touches on the posters and such around the lobby area.

You'd think all the cosmetics would be sorted out sooner, tapi sedang orang dah mula masuk untuk menyaksikan pertunjukan malam pertama, this was still going on.

A little bit of an omen for me, sebab sepatutnya malam pertama ni la yang meka nak all out to impress. Lagikpun first night ni khas buat media, artists and invited guests, so I assume they would want to put on a good impression instead of showing that things are still kelam, kabut kan.

But then again - I suppose this would only be important if they had tickets to sell, because the next thing I saw was an A4 sized paper yang dilekat pada this huge backdrop there which read SOLD OUT.

Erm... so the hype is there. Sampai sold out sebelom buat satu show pun. All three weeks worth, 18 performances, all sold out. I got another chill - is this another sign it's going to be overrated like Puteri Gunung Ledang? Ever the skeptic kan....

Tunggu kengkawan memasing sampai sorang sorang, and then enjoyed jamuan yang disediakan di tambah keenakkan gosip teman teman yang hadir before we made our way to the grand circle kat tingkat atas after, which were better seats than the floor level yang seat ala hanj gituh. Hate nose bleed seats,. And they do call these nose bleed seats for a reason ok, sebab kami paling atas sekali. Check out the view we go while waiting for the doors to open.

And wait we did. While the show was supposed to go on at 8.30pm, the doors were opened only at 8.45pm!!! Saw Datuk Khalid Jiwa and kids who were sitting not too far from us.

Masuk je, Muzaffar twho sat to me, and I, found that kita kena apit kiri kanan oleh seniman seniwati veteran. Alamak... ni kena sopan lak nih. Damn... that goes my whole evening. At least if I could b***h about the show ok gak.

Here's the bird's eye view we had.

And then the show about 9.15pm. Thank God!!! I was just about pissed with staring at the stupid LED subtitle feed that read, and I swear this is true - P. RAMLEE THE MUZICAL!

Er... ok then. So anyway, enjoy these pics I getched from mstar (sebab tak larat nak function sebagai photographer ketika show). Enjoy the pics before you have to put up with my b***hing.

The four women of P. Ramlee - Azizah (Siti Nurhaliza), Junaidah (Atilia), Norizan (Melissa Saila) and Liza Hanim (Saloma)

Don't cry darling - I know how you feel... it IS a horrible dress.

I can't take this... why the dresses so ugly???

Yes, look at the set - not our dancing - no... that would bore you!

One funky cinema!

So there's a train - why are we pushing the carriages?

Ok... I know you said we couldn't hold hands...

Hiburan Minggu Ini - with a better set

Yes, I can't act - yet I beat Syafie Naswip,m my understudy, to play P. Ramlee!

Erm.. I like this scene actually...

Now I could go on forever, so to make this review, or more like thrash fest more simplified. Let me get this straight. I did not go into Istana Budaya wanting to hate the show. Just somehow I detest the fact that they overhyped it and sold it for more than what it's worth, like Puteri Gunung Ledang.

It's not all poison sebab I did enjoy parts of the show. It could have been better if they trimmed part of it - like the whole first act which was a waste of over an hour.

Not to mention get the subtitler working (and please check the errors sebab some of it is laughable)

Now, let's break it down.

Acting - Apart from Sean Ghazi, and Liza Hanim, no one really caught my eye, or managed to evoke any emotion. Melissa Saila was the best though for the night as watak Norizan ni memang dia bak sampai kami sanggup ni nak overlook the fact that she can't sing to save her life. That woman however, despite that handicap, saved the show along with Sean and Liza. Atilia was ok, and so was Siti (tapi part sikit sangat susah nak judge) as were the Shaw Brothers in Colin Kirton. Chedd was ok as the adult Sukardi, but wish they'd decelop the charater properly.

The others? Mediocre at best.

Yang budak yang mainkan watak P. Ramlee masa kecik, Mikhail Merican was HORRIBLE!!! Felt like b****h slapping the kid. Patutnya bagi je kat understudy dia si Syafie yang lakon Mukhsin.
Sure it would have been better. Lakonan Kihail ni kayu dan cam mangkuk jamban tul... pening tengok.

Didn't like Joseph Gonzales as BS Rajhans too - but the BS part worked in response to his acting at least (gelak lawak sendiri).

For most times, in the first act - I felt like aku tengah nonton pementasan Hari Penyampaian Hadiah.

By the way, erm... Sean kena la jantankan watak dia tuh sikit. pelik sikit aku tengok P. Ramlee lentik ayu sana sini. Butch it up babe!

Singing - Vocals had to go first to Liza Hanim for working her Saloma character well enough despite lack of any real depth to what they had written. Siti too was pleasing, while Sean.. well, what can you say. The man has it down to a pat.
Most horrible was Melissa Saila, but then again, that woman is forgiven based on the sheer magic of wanting us all to be Norizan. Er.... you know what I mean.

Script/Direction - It was all over the place! Skrip cam lahar kekadang. Mana taknya...
First act tuh bazir sejam lebih for what? Underdeveloped on the essentials, and merapu meroyan on the unnecessary.

Not enough on what role Azizah played in P. Ramlee's life, and too much on Junaidah without even delving into her character.

And not only did they make P. Ramlee look erm.. cheap...jumping from woman to woman, they didn't bother to think audiences would enquire the fact that how the hell did he give up his fancy for Junainah so easily. Or how he could have gone to Norizan so easily after the heartbreak he endured masa Junaidah tinggalkan dia... or how the hell Norizan came into the picture.

We know the stories... tapi hello? Your musical has to to find subtle way of relating these to the audience. Nak sensitivity salah tempat tol. Sampai impede the storyline.

The Shaw Brothers were actually a waste of time with too much focus on them, and the whole Singapore independence was also more useless space-taking moments. If the ensemble leh act or sing or even dance ok la gak...

Direction was inconsistent at best - and biasa biasa aja.

Songs - Honestly apart from lagu lagu evergreen NOT ONE of the songs other than that stuck in my head. Almost all of them were so typical Dick Lee, and I actually think he recycled some stuff from the Emperess Dowager play in Singapore as songs here la. Hard to tell... because nothing from him sounds any different....buang masa tul amik composer yang tak paham the whole Malay culture or much needed elements to be true to the period and spirit of P. Ramlee.

Kalau takde Siti ke Liza ke Sean, I would have gone through the play with earplugs shoved against my cochlea.

Choreography - OH MY GOD!!! Where did Pat Ibrahim pick up his moves???

No, no, no...I am not about to puji because one of the most horrible aspects of the show was the stinking choreography. It was like watching Hiburan Minggu Ini, with better sets. Considering the colourful period he had to play with, you would think he would be more creative, but nope....

Bosan nak mampos siot!

Set - OH MY GOD!!! This time, it's a good exclamation. Ok, so I am not about to give it a five star effort but still... this is worlds apart dari Puteri Gunung Ledang yangs et bosan, recycle manjang, and had only one praiseworthy backdrop yang pakai sekali jer.

The whole set-up for the different scenes in the musical deserve a thumbs up, even if the occasional item seemed out of period, or from Ikea's bargain section.

To get more than a few bonus points after the other horrible elements, this time, they used the stage and the working of it really well. For once, selain Chang & Eng, I saw a musical yang bebetul utilise all the amenities that Istana Budaya had to offer.

In fact, dari aspek ni, aku rasa it even beats out Chang & Eng because of the sheer fluidity of the planned moments. The way one set changes into another, the semaless transition.
Memang korang kan tengok la penggunaan hidraulik kat istana Budaya tu.

Cuma geli je team movers meka dalam buku program berangan Transformers katanya.

Wardrobe - Mmmm... this part I don't really have a problem with. Except some area mana nampak sangat kemalasan costume desginers in doing their homework and research of the era.

They seemed to rely on the stereotypical nature of what they knew about the period. Lain kali, buat homework betul betul ler dan kaji the look to make it authentic.
Some of the dresses and adornments, and also footwear memang salah sangat!

Music - Erwin Gutawa and his team of musicians were the only ones I have absolutely nothing to b***h about! Perfect! Well.. as perfect as they could be with the limited crap they had to play.

Technical - Firstly someone do something about the subtitler or whatever you call that LED screen which flashes the subtitles. Horrendous!
Dah lah most of the time it doesn't work. Omputeh belakang aku dok merungut tak paham apa yang berlaku.

Secondly, the sound guys. Were you asleep? The mix was totally funky and for most parts especially in the horrendous first act, we couldn't make out the dialogue or lyrics being sung because everything was boxy and muffled. Argh!!!

Dah la subtitler pun tak fungsi... at times even orang kita pun clueless what was being done or said.

Lighting was another issue. I found it distracting the way they used the follow spot so unsparingly. I know ler nak highlight the main characters in the scene to stand out from the ensemble, but it's just... so.. wrong! Plus it cheapens the whole thing. Subtlety la at least when you hit on that spotlight. And also the lighting people have to talk it over to the directors to know who's the focus of the scene sebab siap ada one part glaringly enough, they focused on Saloma mid way je. Blurred out ke fell asleep. Plus the whole lighting of the night, at most times just didn't complement the rich set-up and made the cheap ass costumes more Factory Outlet meets bundle.

So is it worth a watch?
Not to mention the fact that tickets are sold out, does it even matter anyway kan?

I mean kalao korang da ada tiket, I doubt you can get a refund. And kalau nak gi and takde tiket lak... what you going to do? Sneak in?

Honestly, yes, I hated Puteri Gunung Ledang. There were too few moments were mentioning, but for P. Ramlee The Musical, this is worth a watch (but if you can get tickets - settle for the cheaper ones so you don't feel it's a waste).

The plus points in summary are Sean, Liza, Melissa, perhaps even Atlia, apart from the wonderful efforts of the whole set (who cares about the train or the Cadillac they brought on stage - that's so eye candy, the actual workings of the change of scenes is where it's at!)

Then there's also the good ol' magic of P. Ramlee songs that work.

The negatives are too many, and I don't want to repeat myself...

Is it overrated? To be positive... not as much as Puteri Gunung Ledang was.

So with that done, we came out of the theatre with very mixed emotions.Much discussion over it, though I'm not going to say who said what because I know most people would gush in their blogs about it for the sake of jaga hati orang and be diplomatic (at least I know what you guys really think).

Managed to speak though not at length with Afdlin and Erwin as well as several other people.

Also agreed on a lot of points with friends in the media who came out with mixed emotions about the whole do.

Eh, ni some pics from the after event...malas sebenarnya nak amik, so here's all I have.

Sean and Liza (hidup orang Klang!!!)

Melissa (this woman can act! - drama queen alert!)

Siti dan Farihad Shalla Mahmud of Berita Harian (AMIK KO!!!!) - aku baru colour rambut tak abih agik process so no pics of me

Erwin and his family from Jakarta. Eh..sapa tuh!!!

Heh!!! Gita Gutawa!!! Puteri Erwin! Love her... she is just so cute!!!

Headache like hell, tapi sempat go supper with the guys and girls kat Cheras. Headed back at about almost 4am, and finished my review and emailed before I crashed. Ngantuk... effect of pain killers kicking in....