A creative blend of royal splendour

The Royal Arts Gala 2014 put on a spectacular show of Malaysian talent, writes Aref Omar

THE recent Royal Arts Gala held at the hallowed grounds of the former Istana Negara (now the Royal Museum) in Kuala Lumpur saw distinguished guests entertained by a musical theatre production, Mimpi Artilla.

Written and directed by Adlin Aman Ramlie (of Puteri Gunung Ledang  The Musical fame), the 55-minute musical featured singer Ezlynn as the titular princess from the Mayan Kingdom, where the arts abound.

Unfortunately the free-spirited princess has been betrothed by the queen (Adibah Noor) to Prince Syah Rohan (Tony Eusoff) from the neighbouring Kingdom of Rohan where the arts have been denounced.

The princess embarks on a journey to decipher her recurring dream of a mysterious man and reluctantly agrees to be escorted by the prince and his entourage.

Although the two start off on the wrong foot and are at loggerheads, they soon discover things about each other.

The journey takes them to the arts-enriched corners of her kingdom, an experience that eventually changes the prince’s perception of the arts.

 In the end, she discovers that the man in her recurring dream is really the prince. The two kingdoms rejoice, and celebrate, as they finally tie the knot.

Adibah was a laugh riot in full diva mode as the boisterous queen with her lilting intonation and crazy hairdos, while the sensuous Ezlynn and hunky Tony sang well and delivered their lines with panache in Bahasa Malaysia and English.

Surreal and dreamlike at times, the production showcased a combination of cultural elements, contemporary and traditional, that included Malay, Indian and Chinese styles among others.

The horse riders went around in kuda kepang fashion, while some of the other dancers got their Gangnam Style on during a lighter moment (it’s the Year of the Horse anyway).

The musical featured choreography created by Aswara Dance Company’s Fairul Zahid that was performed by members of Aswara Dance Company, The Temple of Fine Arts and the JKKN Cultural Group, as well as Suhaili Micheline, S.K. Taman Setiawangsa and many more.

Other creative heads included Tunku Tommy Mansur as artistic director and Melissa Teoh as production manager in this musical which saw 46 performers working with a production team of 35 individuals.

With the performers clad in dazzling costumes and backed by well-designed props and good lighting, another aspect that impressed was the music.

Composed by award-winning composer and orchestrator, Onn San (who had worked on The Secret Life Of Nora), the tunes were performed by a live ensemble and featured a melding of Arabian, Indian, Malay and Chinese strains that also drew inspiration from Disney and Sondheim musicals.

At some points, the traditional sounds from the gamelan and seruling were presented. At another juncture there was also an old school Malay hip hop and rap performance.


The combination of elements in the musical was mirrored in an exquisite four-course dinner fusion menu put together for guests by Seri Pacific Hotel Kuala Lumpur as part of the Royal Arts Gala, which had the theme “The Arts, The Soul Of A Nation”.

The annual arts gala — a synergy of efforts by the government, the corporate sector and the players in the arts and creative industry — also aims to bring people from different backgrounds together for the betterment of the arts.

It is organised by My Performing Arts Agency in collaboration with the National Department for Culture and Arts (JKKN), with the support of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the Performance Management Delivery Unit (Pemandu).

The main objective of the gala was to raise funds and energise collaborative partnerships for the creation and development of new arts ventures in Malaysia — with the intention to raise the profile of the arts in Malaysia and encourage the private sector to be supportive of the development of artistic and cultural aspects of Malaysia.

The event is an entry point project for the creative industry, which forms part of the Economic Transformation Programme.

Unfortunately the royal guests of honour could not attend the event as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Hajah Haminah Hamidun were on official duty overseas.

Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz officiated the event. In his opening speech, he said that the rich, diverse and unique cultural and heritage arts of Malaysians were a valuable asset to the nation.

He added that it is not only an important factor in uniting the rakyat but also serves as a source of strength and identity for bangsa Malaysia, as well as a driving force in the creative industry that has a high economic value.

“By 2020, the government is forecasting the creative content industry to contribute RM33 billion to the GDP, with the industry growing at a rate of 11 per cent annually.”

“In 2008 the industry contributed RM9.4 billion or 1.27 per cent to the GDP and provided 45,000 jobs,” he said.

He added that in 2010 the creative industry contributed 5.8 per cent to the GDP with a workforce of 100,000.

The inaugural Royal Arts Gala, held in 2012, collected RM740,000 from various Malaysian companies.

The money was then channelled to a fund that was distributed to 31 local arts practitioners involved in  the development of the performing arts, which include promoting Malaysian artistes and works overseas, international co-productions and collaborations, research and documentation, as well as technical aspects and stage management.


The Royal Arts Gala this year also saw the presentation of The Royal Medallion awards — one to an individual and another to a corporate company — in recognising the ongoing contributions towards the growth and improvement of the arts in the country.

Datuk Ramli Ibrahim of Sutra Foundation was honoured with  the  Anugerah Tokoh Seni (Kreatif)  award, and Yayasan Sime Darby with the Anugerah Tokoh Seni (Korporat) award.

JKKN director-general Datuk Norliza Rofli said: “Datuk Ramli has really broken down cultural barriers by mastering classical Indian dance and has made the country proud by touring the world representing the unique cultural harmony our country is blessed with.”

“Yayasan Sime Darby has really given life to a number of parties — Malaysian dancers continue to realise their dreams with the Aswara Dance Company, while the arts are presented and nurtured at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre,” she said.

Ezlynn and Tony (centre) with the cast of Mimpi Artilla during the show.

Read more: A creative blend of royal splendour - Health - New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/life-times/health/a-creative-blend-of-royal-splendour-1.476314#ixzz2sJWplyP6

Aref Omar
The New Straits Times
Publish date: 
Tuesday, February 4, 2014