Feb 18, 2018

Review: Ola Bola The Musical

If you think football is only meant to be played on the field, think again. For those who have watched the movie Ola Bola or are familiar with the 1980's Olympic qualification final match between Malaysia and South Korea, you will be delighted to re-experience the excitement akin to the cheers of the crowd in Merdeka Stadium back then here live on stage in Istana Budaya Kuala Lumpur.

I have watched the movie in the cinema last year and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was one of those feel-good movies coupled with a lot of good moral values like patriotism, sacrifices, and teamwork. As a movie goes, anything is possible. You can bring the camera to the field and deep into plantation forestry but how about a musical theatrical play then? How do they bring football and the world that is revolving around it onto stage? I admit I was a tad curious on the positive reviews regarding the show. Surely how well can the adaptation be?

The answer was clear to me the moment I entered the Panggung Sari where the musical took place last night. The rows of seats with two tiers at the back, the blasts of spotlights, the recorded crowd noise from the audio system that stimulated audiences in the hall to clap and cheer; all of these bear uncanny similarities between the world on the football field and the world of theatrical play. It is no wonder how despite being the polar opposite to the form of entertainment - sport and theatrical play - this musical manages to soaked our heart with spirits of joy and sense of nationalism.

And boy, they do play the football on the stage. The choreographed movement of the actors that are fluid and energetic managed to bring the actions of the fast-paced drama the world of football had always been mesmerized with. The use of the lights, the screens, and the props are so well executed I couldn't stop myself from making oooh and wahhh remarks. Truly, they make full use of what Istana Budaya is capable of delivering to the audiences.

Ola Bola The Musical is a musical with famous casts including Iedil Putra, Stephen Rahman-Hughes, Luqman Hafidz, Altimet, and Douglas Lim. With all the sponsors like CIMB, Celcom, and Astro, I would say this theatrical play is a mainstream play where the target audience is bigger, the investment and the return are expected to be much larger, and the response from the Malaysians should be better. This is the first time I ever set foot in Istana Budaya (although I still regretted that I missed going to Puteri Gunung Ledang The Musical waaaaaay back when I was in KYS - all because of stupid late fee collection process erghh) and half of my time well spent last night was to admire how grand Istana Budaya is and should be.

I also like the songs from Ola Bola The Musical. One in particular that is still stuck to my mind is the song I Cover You from scene 14 called The 'Altimet' Experience - a pun aptly fitted as the sergeant who train the national squad in the military boot camp is none other than the musician Altimet himself. Actually, I find him reallly cool in those uniform and aviator glasses hahah you guys really need to check out his performance as Sergeant Ahmad in the musical.

And speaking about songs, there is a few actors who really sang well and a few that, well, did not so. Being in a theatrical play has a very different level of difficulty, mainly the noticeable ones are the throw of the voice and the pronunciations. Iedil, Stephen, Altimet, and Abi Manyu are the masters of the stage. They sang really well and what they sing are clear to me. I mean, I can listen word by word clearly from English to Malay no matter in which combination. But a number of songs, whether sang solo or in group are a bit hard to catch to the lyrics because the pronunciations are not that clear. Yes, we are the interracial people of Malaysia, we are bound to have our own accented pronunciation of English but in theatre, if you can't throw your voice loud and clear enough, the songs will be buried by the music and overlapping chorus from other singers.`

Nevertheless, the songs are also accompanied by choreographed dance which, to my absolute delight, has elements of Malay dance and zapin in some of them. I am a bit attuned to the traditional dance and I was really glad I could see some form of it in the musical last night. Some of the songs also are from traditional folk's song melody like Lompat Si Katak Lompat and Bangau Oh Bangau. Notable songs that I'm sure you will also enjoy it immensely are Luar Biasa, Pasti, Juara, I Cover You, Lompat, and All This Time.

To me this musical is a success. The emotional part between Muthu and his father almost brought me to choke a bit in my manly tears - I remember the scene from the movie and in the musical form the sentiment it brings is not lacking at all. I think I teared up a bit from watching that part. The climax of the final match is represented in such a visualized manner and excitement that as the time goes the audiences are slowly turning into the spectators cheering for the Harimau Malaya squad in the stadium. The play ended with the actors taking bow on stage, lauded with applause and standing ovation from the audience.

I'm glad I got the chance to finally step foot into Istana Budaya and watched the Ola Bola The Musical. There is still time to watch the musical, and if you are a CIMB cardholder you have the chance (like I did) to get 40% discount for the seat which you can buy it online here (cehh promo tak berbayar ni). The final whistle will blow on 8th March 2018, so hurry and watch it. You won't regret it!!

1 comment:

  1. Hello there I'm cEro. I come from twitter where you leave your link on my #MakeBloggingGreatAgain post.

    I heard so many good reviews about this Ola Bola the Musical, making me feel sad not having an opportunity to go and watch it. Let's just hoping that they will show it agaia someday 😊