Melaka gets new musical from the Gans

Rasa Melaka the Musical

Where: Panggung Bangsawan Melaka 20, Jalan Munshi Abdullah, Kampung Jawa, Melaka

Previews: May 17-19 & May 24-26, 3pm & 9pm

Show Dates: June 1-Oct 31, 2020, Mon-Thurs @8pm, Fri-Sun @ 3pm & 8pm

Tickets will start selling in April 2019. Ticket Price: RM88 (non-Malaysian) RM68 (Malaysian) RM48 (concession: students, seniors above 65, OKU)

Preview Promotion: Buy 1 and Get 1 FREE from RM48 (Free ticket for same category only)

Call 06-2811666 (Panggung Bangsawan Melaka),  email or visit

TOUTED as a funny and touching Malaccan story, Rasa Melaka is set to offer  a theatre experience where the actors are within reach of the audience, allowing people to breathe and live the story with the cast.

Written by Muka Space’s Dr Deric Gan, the playwright and director, says: “Rasa Melaka offers original compositions by composers Shir Ling Toh, Jacqueline Teng and Andrew Lim, as well as fresh arrangements of well-known Malaysian folk songs.

“It is a story that happens along the Malacca River. It’s the life story of people of different ethnicities in Malacca. Since the independence of Malaya, they’ve been through ups and downs in life: getting married, flying overseas for studies, having a baby, etc. Their wisdom in life has equipped them with courage to pull through despite the obstacles.”

The 3-act play, he says, structurally resembles the epic work of Bertolt Brecht, a German playwright. “It breaks away from certain conventional elements and does not show a specific time or place. There are only villagers throughout the play and it even breaks the limitation of the fourth wall where the villagers can show up anywhere they like in the theatre and remain in close contact with the audience.

“It uses real-life dramatic events as its background without interfering with the villagers’ lives.”

The vilagers are ordinary folk, selected from an open audition and workshop audition process.

“We were gratified to attract more than 250 auditionees! And not just from Malacca, they came from Johor, Seremban, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, and other states as well.

“Through the workshop audition, we found cast members ranging in age from 6 years to 60. Many of them are not trained actors but showed natural talent and strong instincts.

“Before the rehearsal began, our team organised a series of workshop and training by professional artistes including in dance, singing, acting, music, hairdo and make-up.

“Even though they were ‘ordinary’ people, i.e. not theatre practitioners, they have been very hardworking and are proud of what they doing.”

The leads in Rasa Melaka. Pix courtesy of Rasa Melaka.

He says this is one way of nurturing the performing arts and making arts accessible to everyone.

An intriguing concept that has been put together by Deric with brother and award-winning producer Easee Gan, of Peking Man and Richard III productions. They lead a team of 20 homegrown actors, while Rasa Melaka will boast a total of 120 characters on stage, unravelling a story spanning 60 years, of the 600-year-old historical city.

To be performed in various Malaysian languages, the main characters are a Malay girl Melia, Hokkien boy Lak, and Chetty girl Kashvi. “We also have Lak’s Peranakan (Baba Nyonya) wife, and other ethnic groups in the musical. So we do get to see not just different languages, but how the characters talk to each other in intimate spaces and moments, as well as when they’re speaking to each other in a group.”

The musical will also feature dances choreographed by Tan Bee Hung and Cheong Lin Poo.

“The songs and dances in this show are presented as part of a narrative, so they support the storytelling.

“Just to be clear, Rasa Melaka is a musical theatre show with a story, not a lineup of variety acts (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).”

Some cultural elements incorporated into the tale are Dondang Sayang (a traditional Peranakan form of singing/music, in Malay, recognised by Unesco as “intangible cultural heritage”), dragon dance, joget dance and silat.

Rasa Melaka is held in conjunction with Visit Melaka Year 2019 and supported by the Malaccan state government. Muka Space is working with Panggung Bangsawan Melaka in an 18-month collaboration, namely “RASA Melaka The Musical”. The theatre space was once the famous Cathay Cinema in the ’60s and ’70s. The state government completed its renovation to a theatre space in 2014.

“As Malaccans, we believe the beauty of Malacca lies within its alleys and buildings that could tell so much about the ancient city. We are constantly reminded about our childhood each time we set foot on the land of Malacca.”

Filed under Arts, Theatre
Subhadra Devan

A journalist who has been writing about culture, arts and heritage since the 1980s. She is herself gobsmacked to have started the Sunday arts pages for English newspapers in Malaysia, in the new millennium. The passion for these genres rages on.

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