Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Puteri Gunung Ledang the Musical

Last Sat, we went for the afternoon show of Puteri Gunung Ledang starring Datin Tiara Jacquelina and Stephen Rahman-Hughes. As of now, I can't very much summon up the excitement to tell you about it. Yes, it was filled with sets, pyrotechnics, magical elements but it just didn't burrow its way into our hearts. We bought loved Stephen's singing though and to find out that he didn't or doesn't have professional training is shocking. His voice and timbre was awesome, the kind of singing I expect when I pay a lot of money to watch a theatre performance. Mbok's, Puteri Gusti (aka Puteri Gunung Ledang's) nanny, also sang well though she didn't have many opportunities to showcase her voice.

I didn't like the colours of the show. There were too many browns and somehow it just made the whole look dull and bland. The chemistry between the two leads was also dull, if in existence at all. I thought much better acting would have done PGL justice but all I saw were rote gestures and there was a general feeling of 'going through the motions' by the female lead. The singing was uninspiring as well, yes she can sing but she didn't really SING. I didn't see any sign of 'discovery of love at first sight - the wonder, the excitement, the naivete' and I also didn't see any heartbreak - no 'anguish, torture, loss or abandonment, 'why-me''.

The rest of the cast - especially the chorus - were of course, enthusiastic, they always are. And I loved the mannerisms and the voice of AC Mizal who played the Javanese Adipati (King). He brought a breath of fresh air to the show, a touch of comic relief at the beginning but then also feelings of shock and fear, often accompanied by an intake of breath, when he used his terrible voice.

The other King - the Sultan of Melaka was very lackadaisical, I almost imagine he had been pulled in to play the Sultan at the last minute and epitomised Malaysian acting - 'I am saying the words, therefore I am'. The only part where he seemed to come more to life was when he danced and sang the equivalent to My Fair Lady's 'I'm Getting Married In The Morning'. Even then it was very 'selamba', nonchalant but at least there was something to actually watch.

The chereography was so-so, we both much preferred P.Ramlee: The Musical but the magical elements of the show, and by that I mean the appearance of the Nenek Kebayans in the forest, were very cool to me. Ju Han didn't like them, he thought them tacky. But we did both agree that Hang Tuah's posse being revived with magic red laser light pointers was indeed …..Tacky. Ju Han didn't like the pyrotechnics, they didn't add value to the show for me. I did like a few of the sets though - the 6 Egyptian 'stairs/mountains', the Sultan of Melaka's palace, and the Gunung Ledang forest.

Some loose ends I remember are the two giggly girls from the Puteri's court - I would have expected the had a bigger role to play when they were introduced, In fact, I also expected the Adipati's advisor to be better and bigger while Mbok also had what seemed to be a small role to me.

All in all, I wouldn't have paid RM203 per seat for the show. Maybe RM100. Not because the direction or the set or the production details were bad. Purely because the two leads just didn't deliver. Everyone gave a standing ovation to the Datin for a job I didn't think she did well.

tephen, while having room for improvement in the acting department, sang beautifully but it was disappointing that with PGL being a love story, I just didn't Feel.The.Love.

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