KUALA LUMPUR – Producer and actress Tiara Jacquelina announced in May that she will be adapting the 2016 box-office hit OlaBola into a two-hour musical production.
The new musical will be produced under the banner of Tiara’s Enfiniti Productions, which has previously staged another musical based on a feature film, Puteri Gunung Ledang the Musical, as well as brought the story of local entertainment legend P. Ramlee to the stage in P. Ramlee the Musical.
OlaBola the Musical is slotted to be staged next year at Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur, from Feb 22 to March 22.
The movie is loosely based on the achievements of the 1980 Malaysian national football team that qualified for the Olympics.
But songwriter Mia Palencia, who will be writing the musical score for the theatre production, says, “OlaBola the Musical is going to be a different ballgame from OlaBola the movie”.
Mia plans to write at least 20 songs for the musical. However, as there are no obvious musical moments in the film, Mia and the Enfiniti team will have to decide where to insert the songs into the story.
“It is almost like starting from scratch,” says Mia, who is currently pursuing a PhD in songwriting at the University of Tasmania, Australia.
The musical will also feature elements of rap and hip hop in its songs.
And the artiste who will be responsible for these elements is none other than award-winning rapper and songwriter Ahmad Abdul Rahman, better known as Altimet.
Altimet is a big fan of OlaBola, and is glad to be able to play a role in this musical adaptation of the film.
“I watched OlaBola twice,” says Altimet, who admits to giving the film a standing ovation when he first saw it in the cinema.
Mia points out the fact that the film uses flashbacks and close-ups to help flesh out the players, but unfortunately, such techniques cannot be used in musical theatre production.
The team will also have to look for a more linear approach in telling their story.
The person tasked with this is Shamaine Othman, who joins both Mia and Altimet on the OlaBola the Musical team. It will be her job to write the script for the musical production.
Shamaine, who is also a comedian, actress and director, feels that the musical should not be too similar to the film version.
“We can’t put everything from the film into the stage production,” she says.
“We have to pick and choose the best moments from the film.”
Shamaine also shares that unlike the film, the musical will have the addition of an antagonist in the storyline.
She says, “When you put something on stage, we need some conflict”.
One thing that Shamaine hopes the musical will be able to do is “to transport the audience in the theatre to a football stadium”.
“I want them to feel that they are watching a football match,” she adds.
Both Mia and Shamaine understand that making this goal a reality is not going to be easy.
“We are planning to use a lot of visual elements and sound effects to achieve it,” Mia says.
The two also talk about working under Tiara, who will be making her debut as a theatre director with this production.
“She has been amazing and fun to work with,” says Mia. “She genuinely loves the story, and she genuinely wants to inspire Malaysians through this story”.
Mia and Shamaine believe Tiara and her company Enfiniti will be able to present an entertaining musical.
“I know that whatever [ideas] we come up with, [will be] in good hands”, Mia adds.