Hatch­ing a plan

OlaBola The Mu­si­cal is set to have the essence of the film and more.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Music - By MUMTAJ BEGUM en­ter­tain­ment@thes­tar.com.my

WHEN Al­timet first watched

OlaBola at the cinema, he was so proud of the film that he stood up at the end and ap­plauded.

“I didn’t even do that for Star

Wars,” the rap­per shared. “I then bought tick­ets for other peo­ple to en­cour­age them to go and watch the film.”

So it was an easy de­ci­sion for Al­timet when Puan Sri Tiara Jac­quelina called him about col­lab­o­rat­ing with her for the stage pro­duc­tion based on the in­spir­ing sports drama. “I im­me­di­ately said yes,” he con­firmed.

The 38-year-old per­former is tasked with writ­ing rap num­bers for OlaBola The Mu­si­cal, which is set to open at Is­tana Bu­daya next Fe­bru­ary.

He will be work­ing closely with Tiara – who is mak­ing her di­rec­to­rial de­but – as well as com­poser Mia Pa­len­cia and writer Shamaine Oth­man on the pro­ject.

Pa­len­cia, who pre­vi­ously com­posed mu­sic for Mud: Our Story Of Kuala Lumpur, re­vealed that

OlaBola The Mu­si­cal would have at least 20 songs in to­tal, with per­haps nine rap songs and the rest sung in the way of a typ­i­cal mu­si­cal. How­ever, she added: “We’re still work­ing out the me­chan­ics, get­ting into the nitty-gritty of it. We’re look­ing at a cou­ple of months, fig­ur­ing out what works and what doesn’t.”

Mean­while Shamaine will be fill­ing in the di­a­logue between the songs, co-writ­ing it with Tiara.

OlaBola tells the story of the coun­try’s na­tional football team, Hari­mau Malaya, and its jour­ney to qual­ify for the 1980 Sum­mer Olympics. The film was di­rected by Chiu Keng Guan and earned RM16.67mil at the box of­fice last year, mak­ing it the third high­est-gross­ing lo­cal movie of all time.

The stage adap­ta­tion, Shamaine said, would have the same essence as the film: “It’s a beloved story, which is why we want to en­sure the mes­sage of hope in the film is trans­lated to the stage pro­duc­tion as well. While it’s the same story, it will be a dif­fer­ent jour­ney.”

Pa­len­cia agreed: “The way we are go­ing to tell the story is go­ing to be dif­fer­ent be­cause on stage, we can’t do close-ups. The songs will (be the tool to) bring out the emo­tions. We were also talk­ing about how the film didn’t drive home how hard it was in the 1980s to be liv­ing in KL for an ath­lete.

Shamaine con­tin­ued: “We’re try­ing to show that back in the 1980s, the football play­ers had to hold jobs, as well as go for train­ing and play for the coun­try. Back then, it was a huge ac­com­plish­ment when Malaysia made it to the Olympics.

“We are look­ing at the film as a source, and also do­ing our own re­search. And we found out from our re­search that ath­letes were only given RM5 a day as al­lowance.”

Since the pro­duc­tion is still in the early stages, there is no in­for­ma­tion yet on the cast of the mu­si­cal. What is cer­tain how­ever, is that it will be an al­most all-male cast which is why hip-hop mu­sic makes most sense, said Pa­len­cia.

“Tiara ap­proached me many months ago about this pro­duc­tion. And we’ve been talk­ing about what the sound was go­ing to be like, what a football team would sound like. It’s a young team, a re­bel­lious team, so it had to be a cur­rent sound. Tiara had the epiphany one day and said (hip-hop) is go­ing to be the sound.”

As for teach­ing ac­tors to rap, Al­timet doesn’t see a prob­lem.

“You teach them the same way you teach an ac­tor to sing and dance, through prac­tise. With enough prac­tise, you can be good,” rea­soned Al­timet.

“The chal­lenge (of in­tro­duc­ing rap in mu­si­cal) is to en­sure the au­di­ence’s get the words which they will prob­a­bly hear only once. Un­like lis­ten­ing to a CD, if you don’t hear a cer­tain word you canre-lis­ten. But for a mu­si­cal, I have to fig­ure how to get a story across to the au­di­ence when­ever there is a rap part.”

Al­timet, Pa­len­cia and Shamaine are look­ing for­ward to all the chal­lenges OlaBola The Mu­si­cal is go­ing to bring.

“Tiara gen­uinely loves this story. I just hope I can trans­late the mes­sage of the film through mu­sic for the mu­si­cal,” con­cluded Pa­len­cia.

— KAMARUL ARIFFIN/The Star

The cre­ative team be­hind the up­com­ing OlaBola The Mu­si­cal, (from left) Shamaine, Al­timet and Pa­len­cia.

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