Touch of Broad­way

The warm-hearted Pro­jekMyP.ram­lee: TanyaSa­maHati show aims for smiles through song and dance.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ARTS - By NATALIE HENG star2@thes­tar.com.my

IT’S been a few years since P. Ram­lee The Mu­si­cal’s last stag­ing. So fans of the leg­end may be in­ter­ested to know that a fresh new Broad­way-style show – Pro­jek My P. Ram­lee: Tanya Sama Hati – is on its way.

Fea­tur­ing songs from the leg­end’s best-loved works, ex­pect tap, jazz and a touch of raz­zle-daz­zle in­jected into P. Ram­lee clas­sics, in this two-hour run of pure nos­tal­gia, to be per­formed at Au­di­to­rium DBKL (Kuala Lumpur City Hall) in the cap­i­tal from Feb 21-23.

Brought to us by Triple Eight Pro­duc­tion, the project was ini­ti­ated to raise money for the Na­tional Autism So­ci­ety of Malaysia, and ex­pose a new gen­er­a­tion to the works of the golden-age icon of Malay cin­ema and mu­sic.

It may be the com­pany’s first show, but it’s got an in­ter­est­ing premise. As mu­si­cal scenes from films like Ibu Mer­tua Ku, Do Re Mi and Nu­jum Pak Be­lalang play out on stage, the au­di­ence will be catch­ing a glimpse of P. Ram­lee’s clas­sics through the eyes of young Adam (Dan­ish Zakhwan) and Maya (Shahira Amira), who have come to stay with their grand­par­ents over the school hol­i­days.

Th­ese four char­ac­ters carry the story for­ward, ex­plains the show’s di­rec­tor and scriptwriter, Manja Liza Ab­dul Rah­man.

“Adam and Maya are city kids. They have never heard of P. Ram­lee, so Nenek (Sheila Mambo) and Atuk (Datuk Ah­mad Tarmimi Sire­gar) sit them down, turn on the tele­vi­sion, and in­tro­duce them to their favourite P. Ram­lee movies.”

Through Adam and Maya, the au­di­ence is taken on a jour­ney of redis­cov­ery, as singers and dancers (rep­re­sent­ing what Adam and Maya are watch­ing on screen) try to repli­cate the leg­end’s spe­cial brand of magic.

Vet­eran chore­og­ra­pher Farah Su­laiman is re­spon­si­ble for the show’s Broad­way kick, al­though there will be el­e­ments of clas­si­cal Malay dance too. She’s worked with Manja Liza and the show’s pro­ducer Mohd Nu­rul Hazirin Sham­sul Ka­mar be­fore, ex­cept things are usu­ally done the other way round: Farah do­ing the di­rect­ing, and the lat­ter two work­ing on set de­signs.

Manja Liza and Mohd Nu­rul Hazirin’s com­pany Triple Eight Pro­duc­tion spe­cialises in events, con­sul­tancy and de­sign.

It was through work­ing with Farah on shows like DanSing Thru Broad­way and Broad­way Bites that Manja Liza de­cided Malaysia needed more Malay lan­guage Broad­waystyle shows. Pro­jek My P. Ram­lee: Tanya Sama Hati is what she came up with.

A mem­ber of the P. Ram­lee fan club Ke­lab Pem­i­nat P. Ram­lee Nu­san­tara, which boasts a 4,500strong fan base, Manja Liza has long been a great ad­mirer of the man’s work as a scriptwriter, co­me­dian, drama­tist, mu­si­cian (com­poser and singer) and di­rec­tor.

His works came to play a defin­ing role in Malay cin­ema dur­ing the 1950s and 1960s. If the num­ber of P. Ram­lee trib­ute songs on YouTube are any­thing to go by, the spirit of P. Ram­lee is alive and well.

In fact, a few of the singers in Pro­jek My P. Ram­lee: Tanya Sama Hati are friends of Manja Liza’s from the fan club. Most of the singers, how­ever, are grad­u­ates of Malaysia’s top per­form­ing arts school Aswara, whilst the cast of dancers are stu­dents at Farah’s Sayang Academy Of Danc­ing.

The show fea­tures some big names too. Ah­mad Tarmimi, who plays the grand­fa­ther, is a well­known lo­cal ac­tor whose ca­reer dates back to the 1970s.

He di­rected the mu­si­cal Ru­biah, staged at the Is­tana Bu­daya, while Sheila has been a reg­u­lar face on Malaysian tele­vi­sion since the late 1990s.

Manja Liza says the grand­fa­ther role is per­haps one of the most chal­leng­ing. Ah­mad Tarmimi has been tasked with adapt­ing his singing voice to em­u­late P. Ram­lee’s orig­i­nal singing style.

She says it’s taken them about three months (re­hearsals started in Novem­ber), to get all the tones and in­flec­tions just right.

But Ah­mad Tarmimi has been happy to give it his best – it’s been a sen­ti­men­tal jour­ney for him too, the ac­tor says. He re­mem­bers meet­ing the leg­end way back when he was still in his early 20s.

Freshly ar­rived in Kuala Lumpur to look for work, he ended up in an of­fice near the old rail­way sta­tion.

“My friend was an ex­tra in one of P. Ram­lee’s films. One day, I man­aged to tag along and went to the fa­mous Merdeka Film Pro­duc­tions stu­dio with him, just to take a look.”

As the story goes, he never ac­tu­ally spoke to the man, but from afar, P. Ram­lee seemed like a calm and jovial per­son­al­ity.

Ah­mad Tarmimi is happy to be part of Pro­jek My P. Ram­lee: Tanya Sama Hati. As a char­ity gig, it’s all for a good cause.

Catch the Pro­jek My P. Ram­lee: Tanya Sama Hati show at Au­di­to­rium DBKL (Kuala Lumpur City Hall), Jalan Raja Laut in Kuala Lumpur from Feb 21-23 (8.30pm) and Feb 23 (3pm). Tick­ets are priced at RM35, RM55 and RM75. To pur­chase them or for more in­for­ma­tion, call 013-298-5584 or 016-384-1815.

From the heart: datuk ah­mad Tarmimi Sire­gar and Sheila Mambo on song dur­ing the me­dia pre­view of Pro­jekMyP.ram­lee:TanyaSa­maHati.

From left, Pro­jekMy P.ram­lee: TanyaSama Hati scriptwriter and di­rec­tor Manja Liza ab­dul rah­man, pro­ducer Mohd nu­rul Hazirin Sham­sul Ka­mar and chore­og­ra­pher Farah Su­laiman.

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