Jalan Impian's road to fame

RUBIN KHOO finds out more about the upcoming musical Jalan Impian which features child stars, memorable music and some pretty established actors. 

In the world of show business, there aren’t many who are willing to share the spotlight. That, however, isn’t the case in the musical Jalan Impian. Some pretty established names are content to take a back seat and let the children, who are the focus of this production, bask in the limelight. In Jalan Impian, Radhi Khalid, Tony Eusoff and Peter Ong all play supporting roles. The experience has been an enjoyable one nonetheless. 

“It’s been very pleasant, a nice change,” said Ong, who starred in the opera productions Carmen and The Merry Widow last year. “In opera productions, you just do your thing and leave, it’s very independent.” 

Ong takes on multiple roles in the production playing a singing teacher and photographer. He is also narrator for the show.  

Peter Ong enjoys the fun atmosphere of a musical.

Joining Ong is actor, model and TV host Tony who ventures into theatre for the first time in Jalan Impian. Tony – a familiar face to many, having been featured in numerous magazines and television programmes – takes on the role of a teacher.  

“I play a singing teacher who has been reassigned to a problem class and his job is to instil order,” said Tony.  

The role gives him the opportunity to explore the theatre experience.  

“At some point, I had to try out theatre. So this is sort of an introduction.” 

Like Ong, Tony is enjoying the experience. The kids, he said, are fun and pretty amazing. 

Jalan Impian isn’t a new experience for Radhi, however. The actor’s résumé cuts across all genres – film, theatre, TV, radio and commercials. Radhi, who plays Mr Vellusamy and the Tuan Gerai, said he is happy to take on a small role in this production since it’s about kids showcasing their talents. 

The show is meant to be a platform for kids and the inclusion of these professional actors is aimed at giving the kids an opportunity to perform alongside professional actors.  

“It adds to the whole feel of the play,” said Jalan Impian’s director Sabrina Hassan.  

“You get an array of styles and actors who act in different ways. The kids can see what they are like and what they can do to improve. They also get to interact with professionals.”  

For the professionals, watching the young talent unravel has proved to be an interesting experience. “It’s nice to see a lot of young talent and it’s good to have projects like this,” said Ong, who attributes his interest in theatre to his involvement in Operafest Children’s Choir. “There is so much musical talent and this is going in the right direction. It’s a good training ground and I hope that at least one or two (of the children) will want to do theatre.” 

The kids have made quite an impression on the adults. “When I was that age, I wasn’t that confident,” said Radhi. 

Jalan Impian revolves around Joe and Suzie, whose ambitions are to become a pop singer and famous dancer. Unfortunately, they can’t afford the classes and end up observing celebrities from afar. Eventually they are offered scholarships to attend school. Things, however, aren’t what they expect. 

They encounter cliques – there are the beauties, the thugs and the nerds – and the kids discover that the road to stardom is not smooth. Interspersed within the story are all-time favourites like Don’t Worry, Be Happy, Under the Sea, When You Wish Upon a Star and Car Wash

“It’s a full length musical,” said Sabrina. “The two kids embark on a journey, fate plays a part, the kids have their share of problems but in the process they learn to believe in themselves and hold on to their dreams.” 

The storyline may seem rather clichéd but the professionals believe that the message is apt.  

“It’s a tough industry and there’s a lot nastiness,” said Tony.  

Jalan Impian is the brainchild of Farah Sulaiman, who is also executive producer and choreographer for the show. Farah had asked Sandra Sodhy, who is executive director of the show, to come up with the script for a musical. The initial plan was to showcase the talents of 20 children, but after two days of auditions during which 200 children turned up, the script was changed to incorporate some 50 children. 

Working with 50 kids proved to be quite a challenge. It was a big task organising them and since they were not professional performers, rehearsals had to be conducted on weekends. But their attitude was right, and the experience a welcome change for the director. 

“It’s refreshing working with kids, they are eager to learn and easier to mould because it’s like working with a clean slate,” said Sabrina. 

The musical is in aid of the Persatuan Kanak-Kanak Istimewa Hulu Langat, Selangor. Apart from raising funds, the show, supported by the Education Ministry, also aims to promote the use of English and cultivate self-confidence among the younger generation.  

Jalan Impian takes place at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac) from July 13 to 17. There will be a charity gala on July 14 at 8.30pm. Tickets for this show are RM152, RM102 and RM82. For night shows (8.30pm) on July 13 and 15 to 17, tickets are RM82, RM62 and RM47. For the matinees (3pm) on July 16 and 17, tickets are RM42 and RM32. For tickets, call KLPac Box Office (03-40479000) or The Actors Studio Box Office (03-20940400).