Act ONE Preview of
Ola Bola: The Musical

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by Ian Nathaniel

By now, you would have heard a tonne of things from ‘Ola Bola: The Musical‘. The movie that drew a success has now found its way to Enfiniti Vision Media where it’s going to be crafted for stage. A musical about football on stage. Exactly. How?! Lucky enough, the Centrestage team was invited to preview Act One of ‘Ola Bola’.

But before we get into that, when we arrived at Enfiniti, we were introduced to two men who would make you swoon in your seats so hard that you’ll be stuck to it. Introducing Stephen Rahman-Hughes as Coach Harry Mountain and Douglas Lim as Mr. Wong. Yes, take a moment to swoon. Go ahead.

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Rahman-Hughes, who has just returned from his West End performance of ‘Aladdin’ is back with Enfiniti for yet another production. He played Hang Tuah alongside Datin Seri Tiara Jacquelina (who played Puteri Gunung Ledang; who’s now directing ‘Ola Bola’). We spoke to Rahman-Hughes about his character and how it defers from the movie. He said the character he’s going to take on is more of a mentor figure and less “shouty”.

Douglas Lim on the other hand is a character that was not originally in the movie. Lim, after his run of ‘Thicker Than Water‘, said he started rehearsing for Ola Bola the day after the run. Playing the role of Mr. Wong, the kopitiam owner, he said the kopitiam scenes establish the era of the people; to show the supporters of Harimau Malaya and those who oppose the team.

On to the preview of Act One. Of course we were excited. When Enfiniti puts up a show, they truly put up a show. Seeing the scale of their successful shows like Puteri Gunung Ledang, The Secret Life of Nora, and P. Ramlee, there is some expectations that needs to be met there. Datin Seri Tiara approached us to set the scene for us. In short, she said, “When you enter Istana Budaya, you’re entering a football stadium. With projections all around the theatre of a stadium interior, the show will start very organically.” That was a seller.

The cast took the stage for the opening scene and we can safely say, our jaws met the floor for tea and cake. Rahman-Hughes, also movement diretor did a fine-a** job with directing the opening sequence. It starts off with an actual football game. Without giving away too much.

The whole of Act One was roughly an hour and forty minutes to which the creative team explained that it’s the first ever run and the duration will definitely be cut. For a first ever full run for Act One, everybody displayed good skills in their specific departments. What we liked most was the nostalgic feel to it all with some classic children songs too. We shan’t spoil it for you.

But Malaysia, you gotta watch out for a few of them. Firstly, Iedil Putra, who plays Rahman, the boy with a dream to be the commentator. He’s no stranger to the theatre and that clearly shows in his performance. Blessed with a beautiful voice, Putra definitely is a perfect fit for the role. Another one to look out for is Kai Chalmers (Eric), though a little rough around the edges, Chalmers has no issue at all when it comes to emoting while singing his solo song. With good direction and more confidence, we’re excited to see what Chalmers bring to the table.

Next on the list would be the character Mei Ling who’s played by Melissa Ong. She possesses the stage presence of a phoenix. Lighting up the stage with her scenes, throwing emotions around like Oprah. She definitely made us tear up. Speaking of tearing up, mother of Mei Ling, played by Ping Khoo, whom we remember from her notable performance in ‘Fame’, also provides us with a wholesome character that gives so much on stage. The mother-daughter combo is one to look out for. Last but certainly not least, would be Nave VJ who plays father of Spiderman Muthu. He definitely encapsulates the audience with the little stage time he gets as a father. Oh! One more shoutout is for Fiza Thomas whom understudied a character which she nailed to the bone!

Of course not forgetting all the leads, Muhd LuqmanBrian ChanAbimanyu Masilamani, Jian Wen, the B-Boy Crew, and the Hip Hop Crew, together with the large ensemble who did a splendid first run.

The final question is, should you buy tickets for the show.

The answer is HELL YES.

For more information, check out their website: http://www.olabolamusical.com/