From page to stage: Muslimah (right), a teacher, leads a classroom election in a scene from Laskar Pelangi: The Musical, at Taman Ismail Marzuki, Central Jakarta, on Dec. 16. The musical was adapted for the stage by Riri Riza and Mira Lesmana, who first brought Andrea Hirata’s novel to the silver screen. JP/ Ricky Yudhistira
I wanted to write and just say how impressed I was with the production of Laskar Pelangi: The Musical that was showcased at Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) from Dec. 17-Jan. 9.
If you missed it you truly missed out on something special and wonderful in Jakarta. I’m an expatriate from the United States, actually from New York, working here as an elementary school teacher for the past eight years.
I’ve also been an actor for 25 plus years and a musical theater director for 15 plus years. I’ve directed adults and children, but my passion is children’s musical theater. The thing I’ve missed the most since living away from the states has been going to Broadway and seeing quality musical theater productions. My closest salvation is flying to Singapore whenever they have a tour coming through the Esplanade.
I was blown away with the talented children in this production, as well as the lead adult roles. Even after living here for eight years, my understanding of the Indonesian language is by no means fluent, but I had watched the movie two times with subtitles so following the show was no problem. I was on the edge of my seat from the moment the overture began.
The orchestrations for the show were outstanding. It had the American Musical Theater feel with the Indonesian background. The set design and creative choreography were simply outstanding, in my opinion in many ways it surpassed some Broadway productions I have seen.
But the overall most impressive part of the production was the quality voices, acting, and emotions portrayed by the actors, especially the teacher and two lead boys.
I’m a 41-year-old man and I know in my section of the audience there was not a “dry eye” in the house toward the end of the show.
I was also impressed with the Indonesian audience, having been to other performances here I don’t usually find the audiences very responsive. I could not believe the energy in the audience and the cheers after each number.
I also couldn’t believe that half the audience beat me to my feet for the standing ovation. I brought my three-year-old daughter with me to the production and she was engaged throughout the entire show. I went to the mall the next day and bought the CD and we are listening to the soundtrack every day, she just loves it.
With all the bad news and things happening on a daily basis in Jakarta, this was a “breath of fresh air”. I wish to thank all the production team involved for bringing such a high-quality piece of work to Jakarta.
I hope this sets the stage for wonderful things to come in the future. I would love to see the day when a Broadway tour doesn’t only stop in Singapore, but makes it way here to Jakarta.