‘LORONG The Musical’ sheds light on stories which remain in the dark due to social stigma
Thursday, June 07, 2012 - 15:28
by Meena Lakshana
LIFE in Chow Kit Road is hard. Around the corner from the glittering glass and concrete highrise buildings in the financial district of Kuala Lumpur lies a seedy part of town where residents try to cope with the intricacies of illicit sex and drugs with authentic human emotion and prejudices.
A musical by Yayasan Chow Kit, called LORONG The Musical and staged from May 29 to 31 at The Actors Studio in Lot 10, Kuala Lumpur, tried to encapsulate that complexity.
Written and directed by 20-year-old student Awaludin Jalalus Shuti, 20, the musical was not for those with a liking for high-brow plots and storylines weaved with sociological theory.
This was a musical with a social consciousness attached to it and the cause behind the musical is an inherent aspect to its importance.
The children who performed in the musical are street children themselves, rescued by Yayasan Chow Kit to be given a healthy childhood. Awaludin himself was a street kid but is now pursuing his studies at the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Polytechnic Institute in Shah Alam.
Yayasan Chow Kit, established last year, is an organisation which aims to assist street children, offering them education, therapy, food and most importantly, positive opportunities in life. The organisation has three centres which serve as refuges for street children.
Its staff managed to clinch a RM20,000 grant from 1Malaysia Development Berhad under the Sejuta Impian programme in TV3 to stage a musical which, first and foremost, was a way to constructively channel the energies of these afflicted children.
It was also a way to collect funds to sustain the organisation’s creative arts programme next year. It is hard to ignore such an impetus when viewing the musical.
The musical’s story was simple: an abandoned child, Adi (played by Muhammad Khairul), is picked up and raised by a transvestite, Wanie (Hasrul Hasli Hamzah). Adi has trouble making friends due to his parent’s job as a sex worker but manages to be friends with an emphatic boy, Rejab (Muhamad Phaizal).
However, a jealous boy, Jali (Muhamad Hamafi ) attempts to ruin the friendship of Adi and Rejab and manages to do so, but with dire consequences.
Despite its rough execution and lack of complexity, LORONG The Musical was a charmer. From the Sudirman songs to Malay numbers from the 1950s to lagu jiwang from the early 1990s, it was adorable.
The child actors were the highlight of the show as their singing, dancing and acting were carried out with aplomb and enthusiasm.
The musical tugs at the heart in sporadic moments — especially when Wanie attempts to leave the sex industry for his child’s sake but meets a fatal end — and gleans smiles from the audience when children dance to Sudirman’s Chow Kit Road number.
Awaludin should be commended for treating Wanie’s story with a lot of grace and respect.
Clearly, it was constructed in an effort to shed light on the stories hidden beneath the veneer of the area and to strip away the prejudices leveled at sex workers and street children.
This was apparent throughout the musical as Wanie shares her hopes, dreams and fears with the audience but is later killed by a pimp who tries to extort her for leaving the sex industry.
The redeeming quality of the story rests with Rejab who grows to be a successful entrepreneur in the food and beverage industry.
Despite the amateur feel to the play, LORONG The Musical managed to tug the heart strings of the audiences and shed light on the stories that are all too familiar, but remain in the dark due to social stigma.