When OlaBola The Musical debuted last year, it opened to rave reviews with many saying it was better than the movie it was based on, released a few years earlier. It’s little wonder then that the overwhelming success of the stage spectacle prompted Enfiniti Productions MD and the musical’s director, Puan Sri Tiara Jacquelina, to bring it back to the Istana Budaya once again. And we’re lucky she did because it’s better than ever.
Bringing together song, dance, props, special effects, costumes and an unbeatable atmosphere, the story of course follows the trials and tribulations of Malaysia’s national football team, the Harimau Malaya, as they vie for a place at the 1980 Olympics. Right from the start it’s luar biasa (extraordinary!) as they tagline suggests, immersing the audience into a different time and place.
Whether it’s the Harimau locker room, a street side coffee shop, the expansive Stadium Merdeka, a rubber tree plantation, or a military camp, set designs are a feast for the eyes. Combined with three large LED screens that move on and off stage in a semi-circle, and a surround sound system that makes you feel like you are in the middle of one of the many football matches that transpire, the stage design is second to none.
The vast majority of actors reprise their roles from last year, with Brian Chan taking the lead as team captain Chow Kwok Keong or “Towkay”, Abimanyu Masilamani coming back as the “Spider-Man” goalkeeper Muthu Kumar, Luqman Hafidz as striker Ahman Ali, Iedil Putra Alaudin as the much-loved commentator Rahman Ramli and recently retired rapper Altimet as Sarjan Ahmad.
Alaudin’s portrayal as Ramli is a particular highlight, bringing his own flair to the character that was played by Bront Palarae in the movie. His charm and wit while on the microphone commentating a match is delivered with perfect comedic timing and has audiences in fits of laughter.
Newcomers for this restaging included seasoned actor Tony Eusoff who took the role of British coach Harry Mountain, and Hafeez Mikhail as second striker “Balak” Eric Yong. Each of these played their part to a tee, singing, dancing, rapping and bringing to life the struggles of their character.
The soundtrack of the show leans heavily on hip hop, having been created to largely by rapper Altimet, but also borrows from traditional Malaysian tunes and ballads. These are fleshed out with beautiful dance routines, both on and off the pitch, courtesy of choreographer Chedd Eddie Yusoff. His work on the football games in particular is spectacular, integrating the LED screens with the action seamlessly so that occasionally actors kick a digital ball, or appear to leap and fly across the pitch.
What the show does best is embody the spirit of the Harimau and the personal hardships that each player battled with while trying to be the best they could for their country. The raw emotional moments counter and compliment the comedy and action, creating a production that hits all the right notes. By the end of it you’ll be cheering and rooting as passionately as if you were in a real stadium, watching a team play its heart out.
Don’t miss the restaging of one of Malaysia’s biggest ever musicals which runs until March 3 – who knows when it will return so catch the Harimau Malaya at the Istana Budaya before the leave!
OlaBola The Musical
WHERE Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur
WHEN 8pm (18 Feb-3 Mar), 2pm (2-3 Mar)
TEL 03 6142 8115