Lessons from the past

THE musical, Mud –The Story of Kuala Lumpur, will have its final performance on April 30, which will also mark the musical's 2,000th show.

With this, the one-hour ­musical, staged for the last three years at Panggung Bandaraya, has made history by ­becoming ­Malaysia's longest-running ­musical theatre production.

This is a huge feather in the cap for Enfiniti Vision Media, the award-winning arts and ­entertainment powerhouse ­founded by actress, producer and performing arts patron Tiara Jacquelina.

Mud is set from 1857 to the present, and focuses on three best friends of different races – ­Mamat, Meng, and Muthiah – who have migrated to the frontier town of Kuala Lumpur in search of a better life.

However, things are not ­always rosy for them. They have to battle ­frustrations and ­disappointments, ­including natural disasters such as fire and floods which wipe out their homes, forcing them to rebuild from scratch.

The show has been performed for countless tourists from all over the world.

"It is tailor-made to tell the story of Kuala Lumpur," says Mud associate director and choreographer Pat Ibrahim.

"Most tourists were surprised that there is a show like this in Kuala Lumpur. They got to see how people from different walks of life came together to build this city."

Pat, 51, who has been in the ­performing arts for the last 25 years, is sad to see the show end. He considers the ­production his 'baby', and wishes it could have a longer lifespan.

"I never get tired of the show," he confesses, and hints that this may not be the end of the road for Mud.

The ­production team has plans to ­restage Mud in a new format, and to hold ­roadshows for the musical in ­seven ­venues across the ­country, as part of the Ekspresi ­Negaraku ­campaign held in ­
conjunction with Malaysia's 60th ­Merdeka celebrations.

­However, some ­people found the story a little too ­simplistic, especially in showcasing the harmonious relationship among the ­different races.

They argued that the colonialists at that time had ensured that the ­population was split ­geographically – with the Malays in the rural areas, the Indians in the estates, and the Chinese in the towns – as part of their divide-and-rule concept.

But Pat does not agree with the detractors, adding that the ­production team did a lot of research before writing the story.

"We are telling a story of friendship," he says. "The [characters of ­different races] did not become friends [­recently]. They had united and lived ­harmoniously a long time before.

"We are trying to show how such multiracial ­communities lived and built up Kuala Lumpur [together].

"I do not think Kuala Lumpur became what it is today because of discord and disunity."

Pat's favourite scene in Mud is when a disappointed Muthiah learns he has been cheated out of a job in Kuala Lumpur.

Muthiah goes to the t­emple to pour out his frustration to his ­deity, leading to an ­Indian ­classical dance, which was ­emotional and beautifully ­performed.

"I am a very religious ­person and I believe everything is ­determined by the Almighty," Pat says.

"I can understand the frustration that Muthiah goes through. I have gone through difficult moments in my life and have asked God for help and my prayers were answered.

"There is a force bigger than us that is ­guiding us to the right path."

Like Pat, actor Anding ­Indrawani, who has played ­Mamat in Mud almost from the start, has mixed emotions about the show coming to an end.

"I am feeling happy and sad at the same time," said Anding, who is also a singer and personal trainer, and has acted in films.

"We must understand that nothing lasts forever. At least, we are ending the show with dignity and I think we have done a great job for the last three years."

Anding, 33, used his late father, a government servant who passed away last year, as his role model to play Mamat.

"My father was a very ­loving father," says the Sarawak native. "He was very funny. He always made me laugh. I channelled my father's spirit into Mamat."

He also loves the way his ­character was written in the show.

"There are times when [­Mamat] can be fragile," he says. "It is great to play a character that has different shades."

When asked what he has learnt from playing Mamat, Anding says: "Mamat has taught me to value friendship more. I have never taken my friends for granted since playing the character."

After Mud, Anding will concentrate on his music career which he has neglected in the last three years. He hopes to produce a few singles soon.

For more, visit the Mud KL website.