The warm-hearted Projek My P. Ramlee: Tanya Sama Hati show aims for smiles through song and dance.
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 to 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
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 Broadway-style 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 4,500-strong 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 well-known 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 to 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.