Snap happy: Dancers from the Indonesian Arts Institute of Surakarta (ISI) perform as paparazzi in the opening act of the musical Diana.
The musical, Diana, performed July 7-8 at the Jakarta Convention Center (JCC), Senayan, South Jakarta, is a simple story of a love triangle set before the backdrop of two conflicts — the dissolution of a band and political conflict.
The play’s musical ensemble, dance and stage art — which includes huge movable installations and multimedia backdrop — however, transforms the musical from a simple story into a good theatrical performance.
The show also introduced the astounding young talents of Sheila Marcia Joseph, 20, Reza Novra a.k.a Rezanov Gribs, 26, and Anindya Yandirest Ayunda, 20.
The musical pays homage to Indonesia’s legendary rock and roll band Koes Plus, who has reached its 50th year, by the country’s leading national daily newspaper, Kompas, which itself is celebrating 45 years in circulation.
The production, led by renowned filmmaker Garin Nugroho as director and musician Yockie Suryoprayogo as musical director, was the result of the efforts of more than 200 people.
Yocki re-arranged 20 songs produced by Koes Plus for the musical. The Sa’unine orchestra’s 43 musicians and the UI Paragita Choir, led by soprano Aning Katamsi, made a profound ensemble accompanying the singing of the actors on stage.
Choreographer Eko Supriyanto, who collaborated with Garin Nugroho in the film Opera Jawa (the Javanese Opera), choreographed the dance numbers in the musical and trained the dancers from Indonesian Arts Institute of Surakarta, Central Java.
Former Kompas Sunday Editor Bre Redana, who made a breakthrough in pop culture reporting by incorporating theories of media studies, wrote the screenplay with short story writer Agus Noor.
The title of the play, Diana, is based on Koes Plus’ famous single about a girl with the same name. The Diana in the play however, is different from the girl in the song, who was a farmer’s daughter.
In the play, Diana, played by Anindya is a beautiful drummer who is the daughter of Da Silva (Andy /rif), the leader of Tilore, country torn by political conflict.
The story starts by introducing four band members: vocalist Yoko (Ariyo Wahab), guitarist Yance (Rezanov), bass player Ebon (Ade Dana Galistan) and drummer Jojo (Reuben Elishama Hadju).
The cocky vocalist Yoko later becomes romantically involved with infotainment reporter Mariska (Sheila Marcia), after which the band tours to perform in Tilore, bringing Mariska with them.
In Tilore, the character of Diana appears. She later falls in love and steals the heart of Yoko. The love-struck and cocky vocalist Yoko insists that Diana replace drummer Jojo, whom he disliked from the beginning.
Yoko and Diana’s relationship found an obstacle as Da Silva opposed of the union. All this happens before the backdrop of killing and conflict in fictional Tilore.
Power of the mike: Sheila Marcia (holding the mike) dances with Indonesian Arts Institute of Surakarta (ISI) dancers. Sheila performs as Mariska, an infotainment presenter, in the musical Diana.
Sheila’s acting throughout the musical is outstanding, but she is let down by her singing voice, which is sometimes out of pitch. She makes up for this with her fluid movement across the stage.
Her solo performance singing Koes Plus’ song Cintamu Telah Berlalu (Your Love Has Passed) was convincing of a woman experiencing lost love. Her face emanated emotional pain and her movements and singing seemed to capture the audience’s emotions.
Anindya was flawless in her singing. Her character was a giggly girl, who was unashamed of her love for Yoko. Anindya performs one especially fun and and sexy number, singing and dancing in red satin lingerie among chorus members.
Ariyo did a good job depicting the character of the cocky front-man of man of the band. Yoko was a vocalist who finishes each band argument with the sentence: “Listen, I’m the leader here”.
The comical character Ebon comments on this saying: “Typical of leaders, they always want to be listened to. Why don’t they listen for a change?”
Reuben showed an introverted silent Jojo, who did not leave much impression. But Rezanov gave an impressive performance as the hardcore guitarist, with his shrilling rock and roll wails.
Guest stars such as Elfonda “Once” Mekel, Aning Katamsi, and guitarists Eet Syahrani and Tohpati added a nice touch to the musical. At one point Eet and Tohpati were dueling each other in a battle between rock and jazz.
The musical ended with a member of Koes Plus performing a duet with Jojo singing Nusantara 1. The song sounded like a reminder to current generation to be proud of their nation.
I hope you’re not jealous/ seeing my life. My life is free my friend/ No one chasing. In my beautiful nusantara my home/ you should know. The land of diamonds knows not disappointment. In the equator.
Theatrical treat: Dancers perform the musical Diana, a love story involving a band in a conflict area. The musical paid homage to Indonesian legendary rock band Koes Plus in commemoration of the 45th anniversary of Kompas daily.
— Photos by JP/J. Adiguna