As you can see from the title of this entry, this is not one of those regular lengthy reviews that I’m notoriously known for. Truth be told, I am not a theatre person, neither do I have any expert knowledge on the technical aspects of it. As it is, this entry is more like a reminiscing episode of the highly-acclaimed, multiple award-winning play that I attended last Saturday 17th May 2008 at the Esplanade Theatre. I had mentioned about this play during the Siti Nurhaliza Diari Hati Concert review. And when the tickets went on sale a few days after the concert, I believe I was one of the first to call in and grab my tickets. Nope I did not get front row seats again this time, but my seats were about 5 rows from the front, which were still near enough.
What can I say about this play / musical / performance or whatever you might call it??? All I can say is that it left such an indelible mark on me, to the point that I toyed at the idea of watching it again, just to relive the olden days of yore. It was easily an eye-catching show, complete with props that you think you would never be able to see again and topped off by equally excellent performances by the whole cast, main and supporting. Oh and not forgetting the soundtrack and songs performed. They were oh-so-beautiful to the ears. I was blown away by Musly Ramlee‘s impersonation of the great man himself, his facial expressions, voice, moves, nuances. He really revived the soul of P. Ramlee once again. Maybe the only flaw he has is that his voice is not deep enough, but what the heck, I think the production team pulled off a masterstroke by casting him in place of Sean Ghazi. Ok it is unfair to compare them both, especially since I did not watch the first season of the play, but I strongly believe Musly wins hands down when it comes to reviving that soul and everything the great man had.
Aida with Melissa Saila who played Noorizan. We did not get to take a photograph with Liza herself as the queue was long and we had to rush along. We only managed to say our His and Byes and Liza afforded her congratulations to us on the birth of Syadiyah. She has been keeping tabs on us through this blog. Kinda embarrassing to know that but at least we are still keeping tabs on each other’s lives. That’s her fingers by the way holding the marker to the right. If only we had the time to hang out like in the past…
As for the other casts, of course my old friend Liza Hanim did a stellar job as Saloma, not to forget the others as well. Didn’t expect Melissa Saila and Emelda to sing so well. Judging by the reactions of the audience and their roar of approval during the finale, Liza did a convincing job. Even my mum who went to watch the show on Sunday night said she was highly impressed by Liza‘s performance with the only possible flaw being that she did not shake her body and hand gestures a little bit more than the grand dame herself. The props deserved a mention as well, especially the train. When it first rolled onto the stage, gasps could be heard from the audience. Yes, it was a masterpiece having it on stage and the best of all the props they had, complete with smoke and all. The production team’s eye on detail for history was not lost on me. God knows how impressed I was when I saw how they managed to recreate the old P. Ramlee movie posters of yesteryears and how exact the fonts of the word “LIDO” were during the cinema scene.
For someone who only appreciates the man through his movies, I was not aware of what happened in the history of his life, his rise, his luck (or lack thereof) in love and his spectacular fall from grace. From what was being portrayed, I believe he died a lonely and sad person, seeing how his works had failed him in the end, such is the short span of the life of an artiste. It was a great lesson in history for me, especially since I was born a few years after he left this world. One interesting fact that my mum told me is that where P. Ramlee and Saloma got married, at a secret location in Katong, actually belonged to my father’s late uncle’s home in Tembeling Road. His late uncle was the famous 50s / 60s playback singer Kamsani and his late wife was Musalmah, an actress in the Jalan Ampas era. It made sense now when I recall my father telling me in the past how he spent a lot of time watching the great man filming his films, sometimes at the home of his late uncle, and how we bumped into Aziz Sattar when we did our Hari Raya visits in the late 80s.
Me and Musly Ramlee – I swear I was looking at the real McCoy…
The show I believe had a few flaws which was not enough to spoil it overall, most notably how he met Noorizan and how their love blossomed. Cos during the play, she just appeared out of nowhere before we went for intermission and when the play resumed, they were already married. It was also interesting to note the hugging parts P. Ramlee shared with Azizah as I really can’t imagine Sean Ghazi and Siti Nurhaliza doing that in the first season of the play, knowing the latter’s personality. But all in all, I dare give it a 5-star performance for taking the audience back in time and feeling very much nostalgic. I know it hit some raw nerves that night as I heard a few sniffs around me. I think I would have teared as well if I was my father’s age and had lived through the great man’s time. They said that it was a big challenge to convince the Singapore audience since the play is afterall based mostly on what happened during the Jalan Ampas era. I say that not only have they convinced us all, but they have captured our imagination with their solid, all-round take. Now if only they would release it on DVD or at least have the soundtrack sold in stores. No wonder they won 6 awards at the recent Boh Cameronian Awards the weekend before last. Cos this show really deserves all the accolades and hype that came along with it.