‘Ola Bola The Musical’ is back, with new cast members who are household name.
THE inspiring tale of the Malaysian football team’s perseverance in resolving internal problems and uniting to qualify for the 1980 Olympics is back.
Enfiniti Productions and Istana Budaya have announced the return of Ola Bola The Musical, the sold-out hit show of 2018 and the biggest musical ever staged in Malaysia.
Its director Puan Sri Tiara Jacquelina says, Ola Bola’s second season is going to be "tighter, stronger and more "luar biasa" (extraordinary) when it kicks off on Feb 18 at the national theatre on Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur.
Tiara said while the props, dialogue, storyline and costumes remain unchanged, three household names are joining the cast as major and supporting characters — Munafik star Nabila Huda Suhaimi, Tony Eusoff of P Ramlee The Musical and Hafeez Mikail of Busker.
Tony takes over from Stephen Rahman-Hughes as the no-nonsense British football coach Harry Mountain while Hafeez takes over from Kai Chalmers as Sabah-born striker Eric Yong.
Nabila plays three supporting roles, and the chief among them is a loud-mouthed football fan named Dumilah.
“Dumilah is taken from Tiara’s character Gusti Puteri Retno Dumilah in Puteri Gunung Ledang The Musical,” said Nabila Huda at the launch of Ola Bola in Istana Budaya on Jan 15.
“It’s going to be my second Enfiniti musical after Mud where I also had a cameo role last December.”
Nabila Huda said after Mud ended, she jokingly asked Tiara if there was any role for her in Ola Bola.
“That must have sparked an idea in her mind, as she had told me about increasing the female presence in the story."
She declined to give details of her characters, but admitted that each of them packs punch, especially Dumilah, a “football fanatic” despite her lack of knowledge of the game.
“I’ve just begun rehearsals. Theatre is hard work, but less stressful than TV and film — tiring yet fun, like a family adventure!”
Nabila Huda, 34, vows to star in more musicals, especially those with a Bangsa Malaysia message.
“The moment I watched Ola Bola last year, I fell in love with its beautiful themes of patriotism and sportsmanship.
“I want to thank Tiara and Enfiniti for giving me a chance to be part of this timeless, inspirational story.”
Nabila Huda’s next project is the second season of Iflix drama series KL Gangster Underworld which will be screened in mid-2019.
Hafeez, 26, said: "It has always been part of my bucket list to star in a musical. I hope to enjoy the experience and learn lots of new things."
He said Busker ignited his love for music and he was honoured to play an East Malaysian for the second time after the drama series Kenyalang, I’m In Love last year.
Tony, 41, said: "I'm super excited to be back in an Enfiniti musical. It brings back memories of incredible national spirit in the face of adversity, and unites me with some amazing friends."
He revealed that he could not play football, but “was slowly learning the game” during on-going rehearsals.
“I would still need to be convincing as a trainer and for this, I would need to deploy all my acting faculties to pull off the role effectively.”
Tony also said Ola Bola is his reunion with Nabila Huda after their 2014 collaboration in the biopic Saloma.
“It’s a joy working with Nabila again. She’s beautiful and such an enigmatic and giving actress,” said Tony who will appear in the films Shadowplay and Dendam Pontianak later.
Iedil Puta Alauddin, who reprises his role as sports commentator Rahman, said his character was “fresher, livelier and ready to roar”.
He also said that his portrayal of Rahman earned him the thumbs-up from airline AirAsia and its production team, which had him voice over a Hari Raya advertisement last year.
“It was their Go Raya campaign advertisement and the director told me, do it like Rahman!”
Iedil Putra will soon appear in the films Fly By Night, Motif Bu ... Satu Kasih Suci and My Stupid Boss 2, as well as a mini-series Sepenggal Puisi.
A WHOLE NEW LEVEL
Istana Budaya director-general Datuk Mohamed Juhari Shaarani said: "Due to popular demand, we will once again experience the screaming fans of Ola Bola.
“The first staging had the highest ticket sales for last year and attracted a good number of young audiences and first-time guests."
Tiara said: "I'm still not over how well Ola Bola was received when we first staged it last year.
“The most rewarding thing was to hear and see the audiences get emotionally involved, cheering for every goal, applauding the happy moments of each character and being moved by the sad moments.”
She added that it was touching to hear on social media that many who came could not get enough of Ola Bola and asked for a re-staging.
“I've decided to challenge my creative team to take the show to a whole new level, so you can expect to hear more powerful music, with richer vocal arrangements and more energetic choreography, plus more impactful lighting.”
Tiara also said that Hafeez fitted Eric perfectly as he was a promising young actor on television and cinema.
She said Nabila Huda was a joy to work with and was one of the country's finest actresses.
“We’ve been rehearsing intensively, five days a week and 12 hours a day. We sold 30,000 tickets last year, and hope to do better this time.”
The original cast members Brian Chan, Abimanyu Masilamani, Luqman Hafidz, Lim Jian Wen, Melissa Ong, Douglas Lim and Altimet reprise their roles as Towkay, Muthu, Ali, Ah Chai, Mei Ling, Uncle Wong and Sarjan Ahmad respectively.
About ‘Ola Bola The Musical’
OLA Bola The Musical, produced by Enfiniti Productions, follows the journey of "Tauke" Chow Kwok Keong, who is determined to lead the national football team Harimau Malaya to Olympic glory.
The musical also features Chow’s best friend, the wannabe sports commentator Rahman, the team's goalkeeper Muthu and the star striker, Ahmad Ali.
With heart-tugging lyrics, fascinating choreography and stellar acting, the musical unveils the challenges that each characters faces — Chow has to choose between football and providing for his family, Ali feels threatened by the arrival of a second striker, Muthu faces a dilemma as his father is opposed to his playing football, and Rahman dreams of being the voice of football matches in Stadium Merdeka.
Ola Bola features costumes by Zaharah Nakibullah, lighting by Ee Chee Wei, and music compositions by Mia Palencia and Altimet.
Ola Bola The Musical will be staged at Istana Budaya from Feb 18 to March 16.
Time: 8pm and 1.45pm daily.
Tickets: RM80 onwards.