Thursday, 25 September 2008

PGL the Musical returns next Feb!

– pinch me, I must be dreaming... YES, IT'S OFFICIAL!

PGL was originally written as a movie, but I always envisioned it as a musical. I’ve always been a huge fan of musicals and have always dreamed of the day Malaysia would have a Miss Saigon, Wicked or Phantom of the Opera of our own.

The film had seen enormous success beyond our expectations when it became Malaysia’s first entry to be considered for an Academy Award and Malaysia’s first film to be screened at the Venice Film Festival. PGL the Movie has now been screened in more than 20 countries worldwide. However, a brief meeting with Singapore’s own Andrew Lloyd Webber, Dick Lee, convinced me that creating PGL as a musical would give this story its richest fulfillment. This begun our wonderful journey into the magical world of musicals.

Through Dick’s captivating score, Roslan Aziz’s mind-blowing musical direction, Adlin Aman Ramlie’s moving and poetic lyrics and script, and the imaginative and innovative directing, staging, design and choreography by the creative team comprising of co-directors Adlin Aman Ramlie and Zahim Albakri, Set Designer Raja Malek and choreographer Pat Ibrahim, PGL The Musical transports its audience into a magical world that transcends time, uniquely reinventing the world of majestic kings, gallant warriors and a mythical princess who followed her heart.

Beyond the enchantment of watching well-loved characters such as Puteri and Hang Tuah tell the story of their love, longing and pain through powerful ballads, and watching the Sultan of Malacca sing and dance along with the rest of his kingdom, the story of PGL explores ideas and themes of loyalty, destiny and following one’s heart which resonate through time.

Every time I watch a video recording of the show, I am struck by the enormity of the production, and still cannot believe that we managed to put on this show!

I am continually amazed by the vision, talent and tenacity of our team of over 100 dedicated and gifted cast, technical and stage crew, management team and creative team – the success of PGL The Musical is the fruition of the collective hard work and commitment of all these people onstage as well as backstage.

However, as I wear two hats on this production, I must say that nothing in the whole wide world can compare to the experience of the audience’s appreciative response to PGL the Musical, from where I am onstage as well as after the show, night after night. The standing ovations and thunderous applause and the rock-concert style enthusiasm during every performance and the love and appreciation from the fans who have watched the show over and over again, have made this whole adventure so worth the effort, and has been our greatest encouragement to want to do better and better and to give more, every time.

We are humbled and grateful to be recognized for our work by receiving 8 awards at the 2007 Boh Cameronian Arts Awards for Best Director, Best Original Script, Best Lighting design, Best Set Design, Best Costumes, Best Music, Best Supporting Actor, and the coveted Audience’s Choice Awards. Isn’t it wonderful that you can follow your dream and be recognized for it too? Someone pinch me, because I must be dreaming!

Merdeka and Terawih in Tasmania...

looks like i'm not that far away from Malaysia though i'm thousands of miles away in Tassie. It's wonderful-mostly, anyway.

I recently met a group of Malaysian students studying here in Tassie at the University of Tasmania. We spent our last pre-ramadan day together at a barbecue held to celebrate Merdeka on 31st August at the Hobart Mosque. What a spirited and lively bunch. I love the energy and spontaneity of youth, the adventurous spirit, the fearlessness and confidence and a love for life they seemed to have. A wonderful man named Imam Sabri and his lovely wife Tun play the role of unofficial foster parents to this bunch, and Effendi and i were fortunate enough to be invite over to join them in celebrating Merdeka at the mosque and even for an evening of Buka Puasa and Terawih at Imam Sabri's. Terawih Tasmania-style was a fun experience as it was at Sabri's home, and the cheeky young students would say to him "Imam, keep the verses short,k... do the express version tonight!" which was really sweet. "Do lots of surah Al-Ikhlas, Al-Kauthar!" (some of the shortest verses in the Quran). The Imam was quite amused and tried to accommodate the requests by the youngsters which was really nice.

Imam Sabri is quite a guy. Apart from being THE Imam of Hobart, he was also made "Hero Of Tasmania" last year, fancy that. All the people in Tasmania and they chose a Malaysian Imam to represent Tassie, i'm really impressed by the level of tolerance and openness practised here. I'm made to understand he played an integral role post-9.11 in making Australia understand that Muslims are not at all about terrorism and bombing, and that Islam really preaches peace and love. He would hold inter-faith dialogues with representatives from synagogues and the various church leaders at the university, which is always well attended. Never short of a story to tell, he would fascinate me whenever i engaged him in conversation about Islam and Darwin's theory, the Big Bang and other niggly bits that used to bug my conscience between science and religion. And Imam Sabri would have all the patience in the world to answer the same questions again and again, always calm and gentle with a perpetual smile and twinkling eyes, like a gentle father or grandfather. Nothing like the sword-wielding jihad-invoking images you see on the net. His frday prayer sermon is read out from a laptop. He talks very intelligently about Islam and his sermon is relevant to society today, never patronising, never making you feel you will go to hell no matter what, with DOSA! and NERAKA! being the keyword of every line like i've heard of other lectures... okay, not that i've attended very many of these events..

Anyway. I'm really happy to have met the MelayuTasmania group of students, mostly because i now have a solution to my Hari Raya worries! Fortunately Nehran, the president of the group, has offered to make me a few varieties of kueh raya, PHEW! i had images of me slaving over the oven trying to figure out how to fake a few kueh recipes and get away with it.

So that was Merdeka and Terawih. The only un-Merdeka thing i felt was...where were the OTHER several hundred Malaysian students, the non-Malays on Merdeka? That ain't so sweet. I would have loved to see more interracial interreligious interaction going on. We must try and get this right at school level back home, or it really sounds like trouble to me. I remember back in my school days when my "gang" used to ALWAYS comprise of Malays, Indians, Chinese and some "others" in between too, and we had lots of fun and would never dream of being without each other. Would be tragic to think times have changed, but it's not too late for the next generation to make up for it or the mother ship would be in BEEEEG BEEEEG TROBLE.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

back in Tassie after a crazy 9 day trip home!

I'm back!

Made a quick trip back to KL for a 9 days and now am back in beautiful Tassie again. The weather is a lot milder now that the beautiful spring flowers are out and we've bade farewell to the winter. Why does it feel so good to be back here? Gee.. i hope i don't get so attached i can't tear myself away.

The trip home was a whole 9 days of madness as i tried to squeeze in a myriad things like meetings, photo shoots, interviews, pre-production discussions with the PGLM creative team AND doing the mommy thing. Am glad i got to set Mila and Dani up in their new school year, got to do mommy duty and got their after school activities sorted out, met their new teachers etc. Boudeng, Nora and Eja kept me occupied all day every other day with meetings after meetings. Had a very good creative direction meeting with zahim, malek and pat about the changes and enhancements we are trying to go for in PGLM3, then Eja went to town arranging a thousand interview and photo shoots for her to use whilst i'm away in Tassie. Chris A managed to get so many wonderful(can i say that of my own photos? ha ha) shots in a whole day of shoots that went on til 2am! In between, stuffed my face every other day at Buka Puasa at Borneo Rainforest. (oooh the very mention of the name makes me long for char kueh teow and my chilli crabs!). Caught up with my girlfriends Noren, Mal, Ida and Sylvia. Threw a poolside birthday bash for Mila. Attended parent-teacher evening at Alice Smith school for Dani's class. Managed to have dinner twice with my mum, sister Carol and her cutie pie daughter Erin. Thank goodness we live in the same apartment block or that might have been impossible too. So it's been a full on 9 days, KL style.

Meanwhile it's been really a messy situation with politics, Anwar Ibrahim, people being thrown in and out of detention under the ISA, people not knowing if they're coming or going anymore, and i cried a little for my beloved country in turmoil.

Now i know why it feels good to be back here in Hobart.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

a hidden nirvana... discovered down under in tasmania

since a picture paints a thousand words, i'll let them do the talking and let you judge for yourself if i'm right about Tasmania being one of the most beautiful places on God's earth.