The show was, naturally, hagiographical. It extolled all the major and, pivotal events surrounding the all too brief life and career of the Second Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Abdul Razak.
But, do you know what?
I enjoyed the entire 2-hour show. First of all, the script by Mohd Izuddin Ismail, Che Kem and Rosdeen Suboh was generally punchy and, interspersed with a sufficient amount of mirth.
Second, the set and props were pretty good. Mohd Adika Zainal should be congratulated for having been able to capture all the necessary symbols that gave the audience a good feel of each decade of Tun Razak's life spanning the decades of the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
There is no doubt that the director, the great Dato' Rahim Razali, left his imprimatur of the show. If the actors were good, I'm sure Rahim Razali made them better and, if they were average, he would have made them good.
And, since it was a musical, there were lots of singing and dancing in 16 scenes. But, without any disrespect to any of the other scenes, I must say that the scenes that made the audience sit up were the ones that the beautiful and ever-so melodic Fauziah Latif was in. Cast as Toh Puan Rahah, Fauziah had limited appearances (after all, the show is about Tun Razak). But, when she was on stage and singing, her voice rang true and the emotions she conveyed brought the audience to an unexpected emotional level.
pix from here
Two special mentions must be made.
Shahrul Mizad Ashari was wonderful as Wan Rakyat, a character that flitted through many scenes. Each time he appeared, Shahrul was able to convey the context of the events that involved Tun Razak. Good job, Shahrul.
The other mention was the singer whose name, regrettably, escapes me now. She sang the aria-like mournful, funeral dirge in the May 13, 1969 scene. It was a haunting scene. To Rahim Razali and the show's producers' great credit, they were able to convey the utter futility and destructive force of racial violence without getting bogged down by polemics. The climactic part of this 7th scene of the play saw all the actors being "killed", all of them. The stage was strewn with "bodies". The message that violence has no meaning at all was very effectively conveyed.
I must confess that I initially went to watch the show only because of Fauziah Latif. And, she didn't let me down. She was beautiful to watch and listen to. She was the star each time she was on stage. No disrespect to Rashidi Ishak who played the main protagonist, Tun Razak, very well.
But, from the 1st Scene onwards, I was rivetted.
So, kudos to the Ministry of of Information, Communication and Culture. Kudos to ASWARA. Kudos to Dato' Rahim Razali and the entire cast.
Everyone should go and watch the show. Get a sense of Malaysian history. Get a level of appreciation of the great deeds of Tun Abdul Razak. Be entertained and, especially, go and watch Fauziah Latif. I did. And, in the words of William Hung of American Idol fame, "I have no regrets"!!!
Tun Abdul Razak The Musical will be staged at Istana Budaya in KL from Aug 16-20. Tickets are priced at RM50, RM30 and RM11.50 for students. For details log in to www.ticket2u.biz