Thursday, February 09, 2006

Puteri Gunung Ledang - The Musical

(Tiara Jacquelina as the Princess of Gunung Ledang. Photo taken from official website)

I went to watch Puteri Gunung Ledang - The Musical last night at the Istana Budaya. To be truthful I didn't go there with very high expectations after having had to endure the snail-paced film version of the story of eternal love. But I was very pleasantly surprised. I had a good time at the theatre last night. PGL The Musical was a flawed but enjoyable experience. At the end of the performance a large number of the audience got to their feet to give the cast a standing ovation. I didn't. I suspect that a lot of this was due to a sense of national pride that we can stage something like this. In the lobby after the show I met several people whose comments included the line, "Wah, damn good la. For a local production." I don't think I was affected by a sense of national pride. I just thought it was a good effort. Local or otherwise.

Last night's performance was plagued with technical glitches. The microphones worn by the performers kept going on and off. And the subtitles, scrolling on a suspended light screen over the stage, must have been operated by an illiterate moron. Sometimes the subtitles would race ahead of the dialogue and sometimes it would lag behind by whole paragraphs. It sometimes felt like a badly dubbed South American soap opera.

Overall it was a very tentative performance. It was the second performance night so the infamous dreaded 2nd night gremlins must have been present on stage with the actors. Early on in the first act Tiara Jacquelina's microphone fell silent at a crucial moment just before she was to break into song. Thankfully, the experience of Sukania Venugopal saved the day when she ushered the princess offstage to 'prepare' while she coached the court dancers. Because this was Malaysia a technician in tee shirt and jeans was seen coming out on stage right gesturing and talking into his walkie-talkie. As you can imagine all these technical cock-ups did nothing to calm the noticeably nervous cast.

Despite the problems the cast did a credible job. Tiara Jacquelina was great as the Puteri. AC Mizal was wonderful to watch as the Majapahit King. Sukania Venugopal as Bayan was skillfully stunning. Adlin Aman Ramlie reprised his film role as Sultan Mahmud and he was...well he's fixed his teeth since the film. But the most watchable of the evening were the incredibly engergetic members of the ensemble. The girls especially just too my breath away. Yes, they were beautiful too.

Okay, okay, so where was Hang Tuah in all of this? In this production the hero was played by Stephen Rahman-Hughes. Frankly, this Hang Tuah had about as much stage presence as a can of tuna. And that's not saying much for the fish. I was dissappointed. Especially since I'd read all the blurb leading up to this. Broadway star, hunk, singer, choreographer etc. etc. Something should have warned me because prior to entering the theatre when I mentioned how handsome Stephen Rahman-Hughes looks all the women around me went, "Handsome? No lah." And when he came on stage I must admit that I had obviously seen something in the publicity photos that were results of extensive post production. As the show went on Rahman-Hughes showed that he had the body language of a limp eel. He also was obviously scared of heights. In all the scenes with the Puteri up on the 20 ft. stage "Ledang" you could almost see him shake. Can this boy act? I don't think so. I could not believe that his Hang Tuah was capable of love much less the eternal variety. I could believe that Tiara as the Princess was smitten and loved Hang Tuah to death. But this Hang Tuah might just be capable of falling in love with a plate of bangers and mash.

Dick Lee's formulaic music was adequate to stir up feelings of nationalistic pride. Nothing more. Part of it reminded me of something that came on when the kids turned on their DVD of Pocahontas.

Raja Maliq's set was innovative but got a little boring after a while.

I had a good evening of entertainment at Puteri Gunung Ledang - The Musical. And I would recommend that you go watch PGL-The Musical too. It won't be a waste of your time or money.

Show and ticket details:-


February 7 & 8 – Previews @ 8.30pm RM30 (Student, veteran, disabled)

February 9 to 26 – Show Dates @ 8.30pm (normal price)

February 12, 19 & 26 – Matinees @ 3.00pm (normal price)


RM150, RM100, RM70, RM50 & RM30


Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur

Box Office

03-4026 5558

Booking Website

Tickets available at Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur.

For more information, please call/fax at 03-4026 5558
Email: or visit


mrsfish said...

"Frankly, this Hang Tuah had about as much stage presence as a can of tuna. And that's not saying much for the fish" - phew, I feel for the fish!

Edd Vedder said...

a well-balanced review, I love it. I reviewed it too in my blog.

How come I didn't see u last night during the intermission..? oh yeah, right. I was busy eating those batik cakes.


patrickteoh said...

Yeah apologies are in order for fish ocean-wide. Sorry guys.

What batik cakes you talking about Edd? Intermission? I was out the side entrance with TV Smith having a smoke.

Pak Tuo said...

well sir,
still very active.

An old vitage never rot,they like it well done.

suyuf said...

you watched on 8th right?
so which category you are?
student? nooo...
disable? erm nope..
veteren? hehehe.. no comment.

patrickteoh said...

Hi suyuf. You also want to be comedian issit?:-) I went on a free ticket. Which category? I also don't know la. Maybe like kutu malaya says it's the vintage category.

RaNdoMHEarTsOfArMylla said...

reading your review is like looking at the reflects of the mirror of my thinking cap...hehe...
it was indeed an entertaining show with apparent flaws...
i'm quite dissapointed with the songs..not all of them..but those which sounded like broadway music(did a review about this in my blog).....
the whole play..i was switched back and forth into thinking i'm in a classic mode or broadway mode...
thought i was the only one noticing this...until i saw my friend next to me fell asleep during the "english-like" song....aiyyoooo....

suyuf said...

to be a comedian?? yeah like you la..hahaha..

I'm definately agree with your comment on "hunk tuah".. i think he should be the backup singer because his voice is "ok".. ( it's hard for me to say his voice is good)..

I'm still dont understand why parrot can be laksamana hang tuah


but still, it was an entertaining show. well done

Empress said...

woo hoo! Thanks for the ensemble girls mention! Appreciate it!

Glad you were not dissappointed! :)

Yongster said...

Unle patrick, i love the review.

However, i can't say that i support the move to make PGL a musical. The whole thing to me is crap. If thats not bad,please answer me this mind boggling question: why would PGL need a mat salleh celup (half malay) as the lead hero, Hang tuah? Hang tuah was a malay. Must she go alll the way to europe to find this "hang Tuah?" why? akedemi seni kebangsaan don't produce good enough actors is it?

And now after reading ur review i can tell that he cant act. hmm..ever wonder how he got the part in the first place?

i think Tiara should think of a better way to market her precious PGL. PGL was a great movie. It should have stayed that way...

just my two cent...

patrickteoh said...

Hi Yongster. Casting should never be done with a nationalistic mind. So the casting director made a mistake using the fler. That's it. Nothing to do with, "Malaysia don't have talent ah?" type of argument. That's always been our problem in many things. We can separate the job at hand from the ideals.

Sorry can't agree. PGL - The Musical was a good evening out. PGL - The Movie was not a great movie.

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Anonymous said...

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Yongster said...

point taken uncle patrick :)

Snapit said...

One could easily ignore these comments and pass them off as the rantings of an extremely envious male who perhaps falls short of any physical assets or artistic talents. But when i realised who the blogger was it was hard to let it go. Coming from an "actor" I'm really surprised how you can be as scathing and as unprofessional in your comments as you have been. Where is the constructiveness? You're really very fortunate that others have been extremely kind, and to stoop to your level, even sympathetic, about your performances. I, for one, have often chosen not to attend a play or performance, simply because your name appears in the cast list. At least you're consistent about being one thing, whether you're on the air, on stage or in your writing, and that is, despicable.

Anonymous said...

SNAP out of it, Snapit ! Dont be visiting and commenting on a blogger u find 'despicable'just becoz u gag on comments he makes.....different people different need to throw up just becoz u have a poor and sensitive gut ! Would you rather he lies thru his teeth just to be MR Nice Guy?
Oh and btw, just so as to appear 'constructive', may i say that it's not physical 'assets' that maketh a good actor. C'on,Snappy, u can do better than pick on a person's looks or build ! Even kids in kindergarten are taught it's just downright unkind!


Anonymous said...

C'on,Snappy, u can do better than pick on a person's looks or build ! Even kids in kindergarten are taught it's just downright unkind!

My point exactly.

Anonymous said...

So if you disagree with a blogger you can't comment? You can only agree with a blogger then you can visit is that right? Ah so, I'm new to this. Thanks for the tip.
I was merely echoing the attitude and tone of the blogger. Interesting attitude. Don't worry. I'm not planning to waste any more time with such ilk. Snapping out. Have fun dissing others!

patrickteoh said...

Hey anonymous 1&2 don't be like that la. I agree. If I 'diss' (correct ah?) others then I have to expect that others will not agree with what I say and 'diss' me also. But to be fair to me I was not envious of anyone when I made those comments. Wait a minute... well when I saw his photo and then live on stage I was a bit envious of his build and physique and he did have a good singing voice. All of which I wished I had but don't. Talent? Okay, you may think I don't have any. That's okay. I don't think anyone stooped to any levels to give me sympathy for any of the roles I have acted. Over the years I have been 'diss-ed'scathingly too for my some of my performances.

"I, for one, have often chosen not to attend a play or performance, simply because your name appears in the cast list"...oh, you mean you have 'despised' from before this ah? I see...Okay then. Never mind.

Anonymous said...

Everybody put yr hands together...welcome to the DISS-Y Club, Snapit ! Here's to more 'ilk' (?), more despicable rat-ta-tat, more dissy-dishing, more......FUN!


.eiffel.amani. said...

overall i love it..i cant get enough of pgl the musical.. i havent watch theater for such long time..and this one makes me wanna watch more..
i'm no professional in this.. but i came with an intention to enjoy the pgl..and so i did.. exquisitely..

and as our hang tuah guy.. gives him a break.. he gave his best..learn malay and learn to be hang tuah as hard as he could within a small time range.. well..we also tried to be caesar or shakespeer when we doesnt look like them at all... and he cant?
give him a break.. to me..wat matters he has done a good job. i watched on 14th feb.. no problem thank god with any technical stuff..

kudos to ac mizal.. he totally blew the former ac mizal we know in this pgl..

and also everyone else..i wish i was one of them... :D

ling said...

Hey patrick, I went to watch PGL yesternight and I think it was good effort as you say so yourself. I was particularly blown off by AC mizal and to me, I personally think he was the best of the night.

Btw, I think Stephen has finally gotten over his fear of heights because I didn't see him shaking. Gotta get over it right? after all everynight have to do the same thing.

No technical glitches. I didn't bother looking at the subtitles. Cause I wanted to concentrate on the musical.

Didn't like the stage though. Obviously, whoever planned it, didn't even THINK about the people sitting up there. At one point, all we could see was tiara's and stephens legs because the speakers was blocking them when they were on the ledang. At that point, all spectators were pissed.

But it was a good show nonetheless. It was definitely a great evening out and I had fun. Well worth my buckeroos.

patrickteoh said...

HI flaminarese. Glad you enjoyed PGL The Musical. Really, there is no reason not to la. It would seem that AC Mizal is the star of this show from all the comments here and what I have heard. Not my personal opinion but even then I felt he added something special to the overall show. Good that Hughes has gotten over his fear of heights. No tech glitches is great too. Yeah you're right about the subtitles. They really are bothersome. About the set design. In any theatre anywhere in the world there are always some 'bad' seats with limited views. Too bad you got one of them.

Hi eiffel. Any theatre that makes you want to watch theatre is good theatre as far as I am concerned. Can I interest you in going to to check out what's coming soon?

The Superwomanwannabe said...

Hi Patrick! I can't resist commenting on PGL! Not having seen the movie and having left all memories of my childhood puteri at home, I enjoyed it immensely!Or could that be that I was dumbstrucked by the drums six inches away from my nose?? There were thankfully no subtitles - oh my god that would have been so horrible! NO glitches either. And Tiara had guts for singing . And Stephen is cute but chubby. and he did fluff his lines . I heard a "Borang" when it should be "orang". But then I'm nitpicking .... Only thing is I could not FEEL for the lovebirds- no chemistry? No time to connect to the audience? Me being a real prude? (I was cringing at the love scenes - wonder if they saw- yup that lady covering her eyes when the hugging and almost-kissing scenes started) When Putri wanted to run after HT, I thought hey woman where is your PRIDE?? and when Bayan told her to go I thought at least there shd have been a line to say " eh better not your brother will go ballistic plus you will bring eternal shame to your country" before going "OK go lah if its going to stop you moping around the palace!" And I was wondering what the connection to Gunung Ledang was all the time.
BUT!!! This has brought me to Istana Budaya! And next week Im going to another theatre (my 2nd) and maybe I'll even catch you one of these days!!
PS/ You know , I did love AC Mizal- when he sang asking for help I felt the extreme cost to his pride..waaaaahhhh..(although I thought- you can't submit to Demak and yet you're offering your throne to Melaka??? Be consistent lah man!) And it must have been fun to growl all the time...!

Anonymous said...

hey, great review, one of the more balanced ones that doesn't just gush at everything. i liked this review too, (, and i didn't like the english subtitles too!


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with your thoughts. Watching the musical reminded me of how bad the movie was and how Tiara is so full of herself.

patrickteoh said...

Hi anonymous. Watching the musical didn't remind me of the movie at all. I try to forget lemons. But I liked the musical. On the contrary Tiara was wonderful to watch. She is a very talented woman. Oh, you mean she so full of herself as in full of talent issit? Yeah la you're right there.

Anonymous said...

hey all...

I am soo disappointed of the review of Puteri Gunung Ledang. I mean... u do realise that it can be read by people outside M'sia.

I was about to book tickets to fly out to KL from here, mainly to watch the theatre version of this awesome legand. now that i've read the review, i feel sooo discourage to fly to Malaysia... i mean... yeah KL is fun to shop... so is singapore, bangkok and jakarta... but malaysia/KL offers istana budaya. thats why KL is special...

not this time lah i fly to watch a show at istana budaya..

Anonymous said...

hey there

i went to watch PGL The Musical last night and frankly, it was a good musical.
yes i was part of the standing ovation but no, not because of a sudden jolt of national pride. i simply thought the entire production in general was well managed.
i feel sorry for those of you who had to attend the shows which had glitches. last night's show, as i saw it, went smoothly.
honestly, i'm no professional and i've only been to a few musicals but leaving the theatre i felt onerwhelmed by the music, dancing, crisp dialogue; like i said, the entire show!
OR it could have just been all those beatiful people on stage.
Darn those pretty ones.

-wb040 a116

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I watched the Singapore leg of the tour and either I am totally oblivious to the glitches or the cast have improved alot. Other than some of them getting a little pitchy here and there it was quite a job done. And Stephen wasn't half bad either. I actually thought that there was a lack of dimension for the character of Hang Tuah itself in this musical? Ah well, might just be me. Having said that, great balanced review! :)

Leanne Jay said...

Hello there,

Just'd like to comment on a wee little thing. I think the reason why the Hang Tuah's stage presence was bad was probably due to the difficulty in emoting in a language he is totally foreign to. I mean he only came in less than 2 months to opening. Moreover...the training they gave him was merely for pronouncing his lines so a bit on the tough side.

Along with the fact that his character seemed to be a bit out of the limelight; always the humble servant to the king. Which i suppose is the point but I felt they should have written his part with a bit more oomph behind his character.