Sunday, March 20, 2011

344.LAT BARES IT ALL IN THE MUSICAL…was there and you should too

Promised Dato' LAT, the iconic Malaysian Cartoonist, that I would definitely make time to watch the musical on his life. So yesterday the whole family and I trooped to Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur to watch 'LAT Kampung Boy, the Musical'.

There was a huge crowd outside the theatre and I was pretty happy that the show received overwhelming support even for the afternoon show. The tickets were reasonably priced but the programme books were missing. Perhaps the tickets prices could have been increased to cover the cost of programme books which are necessary to follow the story lines and sequences.

The musical revealed quite substantial facets of LAT's untold stories which he kept to himself all this while.

All in all, the musical was refreshing and entertaining. Awie was exceptional as LAT and Atilia played the part of Faezah, Lat's wife, very well indeed.

The star of show without doubt was Omar Abdullah. He was just pure magic as Pak Samad Ismail, the Managing editor of NST.

I would definitely recommend the show to friends…

Throughout the show, I was wondering about the props and the settings which was rather subdued in comparison to Puteri Gunung Ledang, Lantai T. Pinky or Cuci-cuci.

Perhaps the article by HADI, LAT's youngest son on the musical in today's the New Straits Times extracted below may provide the appropriate answers.

I STILL remember that evening when Harith Iskander and Hans Isaac came to our house in Ipoh.

It was during Ramadan. I found out from Hans that they wanted to do a musical about my father, Datuk Mohd Noor Khalid, fondly known as Lat. Of course, my father knew about this project earlier, but he kept it under wraps. He hadn't told me anything about it before Hans did.

We broke fast together. Hans and Harith asked me and my siblings a few questions about my father.

They were doing a research on him, so they could construct his character on stage more accurately. I just kept quiet at the dinner table, playing with the ice cubes in my air sirap and let my siblings do the answering.

I was excited to see a projection of my father on stage. It was a little difficult at first to imagine that Malaysia's famous rock star Awie would be playing my father.

I know my father as a person who is somewhat shy, but confident. His goofy smile, which I believe runs in the family, is his signature and no one else could imitate that.

I was sceptical whether Awie was suitable to play my father as I couldn't imagine him doing the "Lat smile". But they both share similar personality and image.

When my father was young, he was a blues rocker in terms of image -- his hair, his attitude and his love for rock music. I remember seeing a picture of him and thought, "this guy looks like he doesn't have a job".

His hair was long and messy, and he was wearing a black jacket. Although the photograph wasn't really clear, I could tell that the jeans he wore was worn out.

There was a cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth. His picture can be easily described as "Bob Dylan wannabe". It was then I realised that Awie was actually suitable to play my father.

On March 16, my family and I went to Istana Budaya to watch Kampung Boy the Musical for the opening night. The show opened with a montage of Lat's cartoons followed by the story of Lat as a boy, which is a reflection of his graphic novel Kampung Boy.

Later in the show, the young Lat exited the stage and introduced the audience to the adult Lat played by Awie.

When Awie entered the stage, he was greeted by thunderous applause. I couldn't help smiling and laughing at his hairdo, which was identical to my father's. His attire was also similar to my father's style.

Awie, as Lat, then started talking and ranting about city life. He puts one hand in his pocket and the other to occasionally scratch his hair, just the way my father used to do.

He also stood and carried the attitude like a typical kampung rocker. It felt as if I was looking at my father's photograph as a young man coming to life.

Faezah, my mother, was in the spotlight for the first time. Her character was played by songstress Atilia, who carried out a remarkable performance.

And for the first time, we were told the story of how Lat met Faezah. It was a very awkward moment for me as my parents never discussed their love life with us. But watching it on stage was a treat.

I enjoyed every bit of awkwardness that I felt as I watched the projection of how my father fell in love with my mother.

The musical focused on Lat's dilemma and the sacrifices he had to make to fulfil his dream as a professional cartoonist.

To achieve his dream, he had to leave his kampung and focus on his career. It showed how he faced his problems living in the city and his complications with my mother.

My father would've never told anyone about his problems, but the musical revealed them. It showed his emotional struggles, which he never would have shared with anyone other than his family.

The audience of Kampung Boy the Musical were lucky enough to experience and see the other side of Lat that was previously kept close to himself.

The musical was not as grand as the critically-acclaimed P. Ramlee the Musical or Puteri Gunung Ledang, but we all know that my father wouldn't want it that way.

The musical stayed true to his personality and that of his work, which is humble and down-to-earth.

At the end of the show, me, my brother Haris, sister Nur Ain, and my parents went back to our hotel rooms. We talked about the musical and laughed at the funny details.

When my brother, Haris, and I were about to leave the room, we congratulated our father.

Not because the musical was a success and we enjoyed it, but for the fact that he was bold enough to reveal his fragility through the musical. Kampung Boy truly is about the other side of Lat

Yes, that is LAT that I know, a simple, modest and very humble man…

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