Thursday, 22 October 2009
Liza Minelli, who inspired the birth of the Kit Kat Klub
You cannot possibly know how I feel tonight. Not unless you, like me, know Liza Minelli, grew up watching her in films like “Cabaret” and memorized all her songs and moves.
I probably never got to talk about this in any interview, but the truth is, Liza was a living legend to me, as a kid growing up in a family of party performers, a kid dreaming of hitting the big lights someday. I knew songs like New York, New York, Hey Big Spender and Cabaret from singing along with my very vivacious aunts and uncles at our many Eu family gatherings. People in our family would get up and sing at the drop of a hat, nobody needed any coaxing or cajoling, in fact you could never tear Uncle Ralph or Auntie Cath away from the microphone, same thing goes for cousin Julie and Uncle Les. And all the Eu children and grandchildren grew up singing Goodnight Irene, Danny Boy, Autumn Leaves, Speedy Gonzales and every single Elvis song on the planet. My uncle Ralph WAS the Malaysian Elvis Presley, for goodness sakes.
Aaaaanyway. Fast forward to early 1990s when I was first struck by Minelli magic in a video of the film Cabaret. I was so mesmerized by Liza’s captivating energy and the way she would draw an audience in with her animatics and her emotion, I watched the film over and over again, maybe 100 times.
I fantasized about someday playing the role of Sally Bowles and performing wit the same kind of zest and confidence, commanding an audience, making them laugh and cry.
I called Pat Ibrahim one day, and told him I wanted to put on a show, a revue, like the show in the film Cabaret. I even named the show The Kit Kat Klub show, inspired by the name of the club the girls sang and danced at, in the film.
We got some of our best looking talent in our book Jacquie Eu Productions, showed them the video of Cabaret, and asked them who was game. Nasha Aziz, Maria Faridah, Sofia Jane, Shada Hamid, Aida Rahim, Yvonne Gabriel were amongst the first to sign on. Gruelling rehearsals followed, and the Kit Kat Klub Show was born.
The Kit Kat Klub Show was the most well-known stage act in KL, performing at annual dinners, the top clubs, product launches and we even landed a 6 month contract performing nightly at Copperfields’ at the Pan Pacific.
The Copperfields’ show was where the show evolved into more of a song, dance and comedy revue, with the inclusion of a stand-up comic/show host and a guest singer or 2, sometimes even a magician, besides the dancers who were also part of the comic skits.
That was our very first taste of stage management and stage production. It’s been a series of ups and downs along the way, getting conned sometimes by unscrupulous partners, not getting paid for performing, shady agents who disappear after an event, but we also made a name for ourselves on TV, being TV3’s favourite feature act for the Juara Lagu and Sinaran finals year after year.
Anyway. We’ve come a long way since then, and the journey has mostly been a fun and adventurous one. The point of this long story as to share with everyone, how IT ALL BEGAN WITH LIZA. That’s Liza with a Z, of course.