At the latest season of MUD, The Musical on Thursday, Tiara Jacquelina impressed viewers with her take on the show. You see, she’s gone and directed the whole thing, and we dare say she’s done a pretty decent job!
Before we get into that however, let’s have a look at some facts.
The song and dance extravaganza is now officially Malaysia’s longest-running show – it has completed a full year and is the only Malaysian show to do so. Bear in mind that MUD has practically ran twice every single day of the year, with one blackout per fortnight.
That’s more or less an insane 700 shows in a single year, guys!
Back in September last year, Tiara stated, “I’m so glad we have a daily show that tourists and visitors to KL can watch, so that they have a better understanding of our history, culture and the various races that make up the interesting kaleidoscope of people of Malaysia.”
Note the words “tourist” and “visitors”.
MUD does not evade from its main task: it was designed as a culture-based product for tourists and visitors to Kuala Lumpur, as well as local theatre audiences. The thing is, MUD is a show created to appeal to transients, and it strives to do that by playing things big.
MUD 3.0 specifically is a musical coloured in broad strokes of commercial appeal and splashes of exaggerated drama.
It’s a multiracial riot on the stage – expect a cacophony of visuals, sound and emotions. There’s a lot happening constantly, and it’s also all quite loud, but executed with a good deal of panache and vigour by its very capable cast.
This is a show done by the folks of Enfiniti Vision Media so expect to be floored with almost toxic levels of production gloss.
God knows how much everything cost, but each element in the design department deserves an accolade; from lighting to costume, everything in MUD 3.0 looks spectacular.
There are moments that will leave you breathless: right off the bat we’re treated to a group of miners making their way to the stage from behind the audience, pelita minyak tanah in hand, while the entire room is washed over in an eerie blue glow. We also loved the beginning of Act 2, when the miners sing in unison over their fate, right before Kuala Lumpur is declared state capital of Selangor.
We must make note of the performances we saw in MUD 3.0.
First and foremost, the women in the cast are outstanding. Nazurah Hanoom as Teja blew us away with her vocals, Charlene Meng stole scenes with her higher-than-usual pitch and utterly adorable interpretation of Zhao Xiao Yen, and the gymnasts completely tore up the stage with their unbelievable choreography.
As for the men, the less said the better.
Most frustrating of all was Zukhairi Ahmad, who went so far over the top that his character started to grate. We like it when our actors are having fun on stage but not to this extent – what we saw of Zukhairi was basically pantomime.
He’s not a bad actor, in fact he’s far from it. It may have been a directorial choice to make these characters more appealing to the masses and children by exaggerating their characteristics, but whatever the explanation, we despised his role and wished for a little bit of subtlety.
MUD 3.0 thrives during its more controlled moments. It soars when there is vocal and kinetic synchronicity as evident in the aforementioned mining scene, and we wouldn’t have minded more of such instances.
Saying all this, we don’t think it’s a show that needs further work.
If tourism is what Tiara and gang are aiming for, then they’ve done a darn good job with this installment. Families with children are going to lap this up. It’s friendly, active and colourful entertainment that’s perfect for all ages.
Note how many times we’ve brought up the show’s historical theme in this review? Zero, because we don’t feel like MUD 3.0 is a retelling of Kuala Lumpur’s history. It has managed to do its job so cleverly, nobody’s going to think it’s a historical account. [Ed: It was later brought to our attention that MUD 3.0 takes liberty with its version of the Kuala Lumpur story.]
Yes, at times local audiences may cringe at how 1Malaysia the writing can get, but relax in the sincerity of the cast members and the knowledge that these guys are all true friends who live together and are doing the same show day after day, week after week.
As Malaysians, we resonated with many things in MUD; we had goosebumps every time we learned something new about our city. We really liked the experience and hope others have the chance to see it too.
Do yourselves a favour and go watch MUD 3.0, guys. You don’t have an excuse, it’s on like every day.
MUD, The Musical runs basically every single day at 3:00pm and 8:30pm in the 111-year old Panggung Bandaraya located on Jalan Raja, Dataran Merdeka. The show lasts for 60 minutes and costs RM60 (or RM45 for MyKad holders). To find out more about the show and its blackout dates, head over to the MUDKL and enjoy navigating through the stunning website.