KUCHING: The touching story of the late Tan Sri P Ramlee was brought to life at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) on Monday in a musical extravaganza that had the audience in both tears and stitches.
The two-hour ‘P Ramlee: The Musical’ was held to commemorate Sarawak’s 50th Year of Progress in Malaysia.
Sarawakian actor Tony Eusoff led the new cast of the award-winning musical as the legendary icon, while Nadia Aqilah Bajuri played P Ramlee’s first wife Junaidah, Datin Seri Tiara Jacquelina — his second wife Norizan, and Elly Mazlein — third wife Saloma.
From the moment the curtains rose to reveal Tony — looking and sounding very much like P Ramlee performing at Pesta Bukit Mertajam in Penang — the cast had the audience mesmerised and tapping their feet to the catchy numbers.
The audience included Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and wife Puan Sri Ragad Kurdi Taib, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang and wife Dato Sri Empiang Jabu as well as State Secretary Tan Sri Morshidi Abdul Ghani.
“I enjoyed a great deal of the musical and I think Tony has succeeded to portray the character P Ramlee, who was a very kind man, quite well,” said Taib, who commended the cast and crew.
An avid fan and personal friend of the Malay icon, Taib said one of his favourite scenes from the musical was when P Ramlee and his friend Sukardi arrived in Singapore.
“That scene really characterised P Ramlee’s character,” he said.
On whether the state would host more shows or musicals in future, Taib said: “As long as people enjoy it, we will look for other occasions, especially now that we have BCCK to hold musicals and plays.”
The musical chronicles the life of the consummate entertainer from his humble beginnings in Penang up to his groundbreaking move to Singapore where he worked for Shaw Brothers’ Malay Film Productions as a clapper boy and background singer before finding fame as the first Malay film star who not only could sing but also act.
The audience also experienced P Ramlee’s bittersweet personal life starting with his first short-lived marriage to Junaidah — who could not cope with his fame and popularity; to his second wife Norizan — an enchanting strong woman who left the Sultan of Perak to marry him but unfortunately, due to his commitment to work, also left him.
It was only when he met his third wife Saloma that the marriage lasted till his death and there was clearly strong chemistry between Tony and Elly.
‘P Ramlee: The Musical’ clearly showed that although it has been four decades since the legend passed on, his memory will live on forever through his memorable songs and movies.