The Play for P Ramlee
Said shortly in three words:
Fabulous. Fabulous. Fabulous.
I don’t know whether I am biased, but I certainly enjoyed watching this whole performance.
Of course the thing that triggered me to buy the ticket for this show was the existence of my favorite artiste, Siti Nurhaliza, as I really wanted to watch her sing live, in a musical show, singing something different.
Watching her perform that night, I was not disappointed.
Despite of her acting which needed a lot of practice to transform the character of Siti Nurhaliza to the actual character in the show, I salute the creative brains who assigned her to do the role Azizah- a polite reserved girl who stood on staying with her family and not following P Ramlee to Singapore- even though she had to accept not able to see him again except in the movies.
And when she sang, it took my breath away.
Don’t really take this from me as I am a huge fan of her-
Of course it’s undoubted that she is a songbird, but perhaps you would still be breathing normally anyway.
Pardon my obsession- let’s get to the whole show already.
The starting scene of the show was a good one- it invites us to see how this legend felt during his later years.
Scene was transformed quickly to his early days as a young boy, where it all begin.
Most songs are newly written by Dick Lee and Erwin Gutawa, and I am so pleased to get to listen to the orchestral arrangement of Erwin Gutawa again. It would be exciting if the symphony arrangers around our region could be at par or even better than this great arranger. Healthy competition would definitely give a good impact in heightening the quality of the music industry.
Some arrangements weren’t being heard of before,
And some do have the melody tune of the songs of the late legend.
And there are a few which are clearly fresh re-arrangements of P Ramlee’s songs.
Whatever it is, eighty percent of the songs are superb.
With strong lower brass like the bass trombone and the tuba,
And the sharp quick notes of the piccolo,
And the impressive notation of the trumpets,
And also the strong support from the strings and the horns.
Songs varies from the style of the fifties and sixties,
And rich traditional arrangement for a few,
And also strong western ballad Broadway for the prominent ones.
The stage props and sets were amazing.
They clearly were one of the significant factors that gave life to all the different scenes.
They range from simplicity to the very huge ones.
Huge classic shophouses in Penang.
Trees in a park in the evening.
The building of the film studio.
Arrangement of chairs in a cinema.
Retro convertible car.
The huge fabulous hotel with yellow lights where they dance during a party dinner.
The elegance of a red carpet entrance.
The huge train with smoke coming out, and the Tanjong Pagar Station.
The classic setting of the living room, with an upright piano at the side.
And they have really fully utilized the technology offered by the Istana Budaya Theatre House- with all these huge sets effortlessly shifted front and behind, above and below.
And how about the cast?
Liza Hanim was really good in bringing up the character of Saloma. Her vocal was really amazing, and she did really well. Her being was caring, funny, beautiful.
Melissa Saila really was good for Norizan. She gave the audience a chance to see who is the person behind the name; she was outstanding, responsible in bringing up fame and order for P Ramlee during his early years in the limelight.
And Sean Ghazi was just perfect for the hero character. It was clever of him to sing most songs in his own way, and leave to have only a few songs to be sung the way P Ramlee did. P Ramlee was really being himself.
The whole cast did a good job. From the hawker to the unknown person walking in the park. From the director of P Ramlee movies to the small children in the scene when he was a child. All of them were good.
This performance uniqueness is by the approach and intention.
It was trying to tell how did the legend went through his life of glory and fame,
And it was delivered perfectly to all of us.
It also brought us to know about the people that he loved, who were important in shaping his life.
The show ended with the same scene given as the introduction of the musical.
Simple but effective- it tells us one thing-
Like us, he went through life,
With the love, and sorrow,
The excitement, and the loneliness.
He went through it all.
P Ramlee is a legend, and not really different than us, he’s human.
So again I would say,
Fabulous. Fabulous. Fabulous.