Writer: Pearly Neo
Photos: Kelvin Anggara
Pearly: First of all, I’d like to apologise to all readers for the SUPER late posting of this article. There was a major technical problem while I was uploading the photos, and I thought I’d hold off on posting the article entirely until I could fix it…but I still can’t so the photos are without captions. I really am very very sorry, and I hope you all enjoy reading this, late though it be! Will post more photos, and fix up the remaining ones as soon as I figure out how to fix the problem!
As part of the organizing committee for Malaysia Night 2009, I’m sorry to say I may just be a leeetttle bit biased when writing this article. After all, when you’re there first-hand to witness how weeks of sleepless nights, endless rehearsals, meticulous planning and various diseases (yes, diseases!) boil down to this one special night, it’s more than a little difficult to not feel proud of it. I was, unfortunately, unable to actually watch Malaysia Night, having had to be onstage throughout almost the entire production, but what I can write about here is the thrilling experience of being part of the event. So here goes…
Saturday, 12 September 2009
5.30pm After a full day of rehearsing and practicing, everyone was caught up in a frenzy of excitement when it was suddenly heard from somewhere outside that ‘There are GUESTS arriving! Guests!’, upon which we all hastened to get ready in double time. I personally hadn’t really felt that much of nerves up until that point, but when I was finally dressed up in my cheongsam (for emcee-ing) and was looking around watching everyone else get their make-up done, it finally hit me: IT’S TIME. Gulp.
6.00pm The crowd truly arrived in full force (Later, we found out that we actually sold 180+ tickets, more than our initial target of 160. Yay!), which is of course really good in retrospect, but at that point in time when I peeked out the curtains and saw how many people there were, I felt quite a bit of a shiver rush down my spine. I pointed this out to Edward (my co-emcee) and his only response was to walk away from the curtains and start repeating his script lines to himself, over and over and over again.
6.15pm And so it began, with the grand entrance of the Hall Master, Associate Professor Dr. Ho Yew Kee and his family. All traces or nerves I initially had soon disappeared under the warm response of the crowd, and it was all smooth sailing from the singing of the Malaysian National Song ‘Negaraku’, to the speeches by the Hall Master and Kenneth (Malaysia Night Committee 2009 Chairman) to the officiation ceremony, which involved the Hall Master pasting on the ‘Enter’ key to this year’s logo, ‘Malaysia. my’.
We decided to start things off this year with our own rendition of ‘Here In My Home’, a song performed by multiple Malaysian artistes to showcase their love for Malaysia, as our essential underlying theme this year is Home, and how we treasure it. Given the very VERY diverse range of voices onstage, I was extremely relieved when it turned out sounding pretty good. More importantly though, were the messages of goodwill we had written beforehand and displayed for the audience whilst singing the song, which we hope served to convey our love for our country, no matter where we are.
Then, of course, there was dinner. The chorus of ‘Food, Food, FOOD!’ from both the audience and backstage was a lot louder than initially expected. A LOT louder. I guess everyone must have been really, really hungry. Again, I am unable to comment on the food as I didn’t get to eat any of it, but I heard it was pretty good, and I do hope everyone was satisfied!
7.30pm While things must have seemed pretty quiet onstage from the audience’s point of view (especially as I’m sure everyone must have been much too busy queuing for food than paying attention to closed curtains), the actual fact was that the torrent of activity going on behind the scenes could only be described by one word: MAD. Everyone was changing and memorizing lines and touching up make-up, so much so that no one gave a second thought to food at all, as I later found out. Occasional peeks out the curtains saw things going well with the audience’s food (Note: THANK YOU SO MUCH to all the seniors who helped us out with the food! You guys rock!), but our personal sustenance was a very low priority on the list that day.
Sanity behind stage seemd to be at an all-time low too.
8.00pm Showtime! The night’s performances were kicked off with a drama written by yours truly, telling the story about a young Malaysian girl named Julie who’s lived in the United States all her life. Bad financial circumstances result in her having to come back to Malaysia, where she initially feels lost, but is gradually reintroduced to the beauty and culture of her homeland by her childhood friend, Ramli. That’s the basic gist of the story, and it was really fun inserting the various cultural elements like the Malay, Chinese and Indian dances, as well as the market scenes into it. The whole point of the drama was to introduce Malaysian culture as a culture with not only aesthetic and entertainment value, but to try to portray a unity and flow between the different facets, and I do hope that this was brought across appropriately!
Nevertheless, I was incredibly proud of the entire cast, all of which very clearly put their best foot forward for the show. Even though my heart was pounding non-stop through the entire drama, I had a wonderful time as soon as I realized things were actually going very smoothly. The audience’s reaction was perfect every time, laughing at the right moments and noticing all the correct minute details. After the drama, we went straight into a fashion show, as part of a performance for the Malay wedding scene. Andy and Wen Yan looked simply adorable on the bersanding seats, all ready to get married! It seemed to me that although it involved the least acting or even moving, this scene had Andy the most nervous of all, even more so than the market scene!
9.00pm The drama ended on a high note, with Xing Ying’s pride and joy, the mass dance. Her long hours of choreographing and planning apparently did pay off really well, judging by the happy, amused faces I saw in the audience during the dance. Even our dear Hall Master was grinning ear to ear.
Just mere performances from us would not be enough for Malaysia Night 2009, so it was our pride and honour to invite our dear Malaysian seniors from Malaysia Night 2008 back onstage with us to perform last year’s theme song, Identiti along with us. It was just our small way of thanking them for all that they have done for us, for making us feel so welcome in KEVII Hall and really making us feel at home. It was a touching scene, and I do believe I caught a not-so-dry eye or two.
Next up was the showcasing of the various talents in Malaysia Night 2009. We had Juin Shiong and Su Yi perform a beautiful song each on the piano, but I do believe that the crowd-stealer was their duet on Jay Chou’s Secret. Then out came Xing Ying and Kenneth to sing Gemilang, literally translated as Excellence, a song popularized by the first Malaysian Idol, Jaclyn Victor, which carries elements of striving to be the best one can be and being capable of achieving anything. (Note: I am to clarify that it was NOT a love song. Repeat, NOT a love song.)
9.30pm So the night went on, with a hearty and hale games session. The game emcees were expecting to have to do quite a bit of work in pulling people onstage for the bamboo dance, air bandung and lompat tali (rope-skipping), but we were all pleasantly surprised when we had a surplus of volunteers! Watching from backstage, it was fun to see not only the volunteers get to have fun, but those watching from amongst the audience be highly amused as well. The air bandung game got a bit messy, with a few spills and contestants having to drink from punctured straws, but it was quite a hit nonetheless. The star of the lompat tali though, was Hui Ning, who proved herself quite the professional as she traversed height after height of rope effortlessly.
All too soon, it was time for the lucky draw, and then a final round of mass dance. As we then went down from the stage to mingle with the crowd and say our thank-yous and good-byes, it was good to sense a general feeling of satisfaction and good feedback! Thank you everyone for coming and supporting this year’s Malaysia Night. We had a blast, and certainly hope you did too!