Talents on display in Broadway Parodies Lagi-Lah
By AMY DE KANTER
If you watched Broadway Parodies Lah last year, watch it again this year. If it’s new to you, you are in for a rollicking treat.
If the title of the show is not self-explanatory enough for you, it is a collection of songs about Malaysian life set to the tunes of Broadway hits and a couple of Disney movie tracks too. Hi Ho from Snow White becomes a Malaysian’s plaintive cry Aiyo! while Tomorrow from the musical Annie answers the nationally asked €“ and answered - question: When am I going to get paid?
Shows in Malaysia, even great ones, rarely show for more than a few weeks. If you don’t catch it when it’s here, that’s it. So you know there must be something special about Broadway Parodies Lagi Lah which has returned this year not only to a bigger stage and theatre, but also to a nationwide tour which will start after it finishes its run in Kuala Lumpur.
I caught and enjoyed Broadway Parodies Lah which sold out for all performances last year at the Actor’s Studio in Bangsar, KL.
While a couple of the songs fell flat, the vast majority were hits and I wondered whether this next generation of actors would be able to step into the shoes of last years’ crowd-pulling names like Douglas Lim and Joanne Kam Poh Poh.
They do. In fact, in many ways, this performance improved on last year’s.
The stage at KLPac Pentas 1 is much larger than the one in Bangsar, but the actors fill it beautifully, due largely to Farah Sulaiman’s lively choreography. Last year, numbers like I Like to Stay in Malaysia (sung to America from West Side Story) and We Must Play Golf All Night (to, of course, I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady) needed dancers. This year, they have them.
The overall feel of Broadway Parodies Lagi Lah is a lot more like the big musicals it borrows from, with costumes, lighting, sets and even slideshows.
Two of the best-received numbers of the first act were performed by relative newcomers Keith Yew and Shahila Johan. Dancer Yew showed that he also excels in singing with Marina (Maria from West Side Story) - an ode to Marina Mahathir; and Shahila played a pampered girl worrying about the prospect of being drafted into the National Service (I am Seventeen, Going on Eighteen from the almost similarly named favourite from The Sound of Music).
If there were to be one complaint about the show, it would be the same one I had last year. In some numbers with three or more singers, it is near impossible to make out the words. This year, the show makes up for it with slideshows, costumes, props and dancing to keep us entertained whereas last year, all we could do was strain hopelessly to hear what we could only assume was as funny and insightful as all the other songs.
Luckily, most songs are done as solos or duets and writer Brian McIntyre’s hilarious lyrics come across loud and clear.
The second act picked up the pace and was even faster and funnier than the first, eliciting constant cheers from the audience. The showstopper was the finale with Mia Palencia teaching a rapt group of tourists how to curse and scold Malaysian style. As it did last year, Bodoh Lah (Do-Re-Mi from The Sound of Music), brought down the house.
The cast of Broadway Parodies Lagi-Lah was so splendid, I could single out each and every one of them for praise. Three, however, deserve special mention:
Sham Sunder Binwani merely had to step onto the stage or open his mouth to have the audience roaring with laughter. Young Mia Palencia, whose voice is more powerful and who has more stage charisma than professional performers twice her age, took over and improved on some of the show’s best numbers. Finally, the comedic talent of Tria Aziz (of reality show Audition) got some of the night’s loudest laughs and applause with several songs as a recently minted Datin doing her best to live up to her new title €“ with the help of multiple plastic surgeries and fashion accessories (her shoes are now all from “Guacci”).
Keep your eyes open for these three, as well as Yew, Shahila, Ho Soon Yoon, Glamorique Arshad, Tabitha Kong, Janet Lee, Sarah Low and Zeqhty Nattrah Ramli. If there is anyone here you haven’t heard of or seen before, hold onto your hats. You will certainly hear of them now.
Broadway Parodies Lagi Lah will be showing in Pentas 1 at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC) until Sept 28, with matinée on Sunday. Tickets are RM60, RM40 and RM20 (students) - family and group discounts are available. Its national tour kicks off in October, entertaining audiences in Ipoh, Penang, Johor Baru and Kota Kinabalu. For details, call KLPAC at 03-40479000 or visit www.klpac.com.my.