“We are so focused on changing everything. For the better they say. But are changes always for the better?”
That, is basically the whole plot of the musical I went to last night. Wasn’t a big fan of dramas and musical and classical concert (only went to disney on ice because the girl I was hitting on loved it) but started enjoying them more since the city became too boring and routine for me.
Anyway this particular musical is called “Rentak Harmoni” (or Harmonious Steps in English, I guess) and it’s amazing.
Well ‘amazing’, but not without fault. So here’s my oh-so-professional-and-experienced-theater-review.
The story was developed from a simple and cliche problem: changes. The story opens with an old story teller, Grandpa Smong’s (Kakek Smong in its original language) monologue introducing himself and a little about the place this story’s taking place, Warita Dikara. Then they start describing life in Warita Dikara, how people there lives harmoniously, how everybody knows everybody else, how beautiful and lively the park where most of life and interactions in Warita Dikara takes place everyday.
The story develops from there. There are basically two main focus of the storyline: about the main protagonist, Nara, and his problem of how his parents expect the best of him and to change his life for the better and to go out of Warita Dikara to study at the city while all Nara wants was to be the successor of Grandpa Smong as a story teller since he was raised with books and stories to begin with and he loved it; and about the main antagonist, Buntala, who’s basically a dick.
Buntala’s plan was to level the park of Warita Dikara to the ground, and create a big shopping mall with the usual argument along the line of, and I quote him (not so) exactly, “If there’s a big mall here, infrastructure will grow, investors will come in, and it will raise the economy of the whole Warita Dikara in the long run! We will be written in history as the guys who change Warita Dikara for the better!”
No seriously, as a business practitioner myself, I didn’t see his plan as a viable business plan. Making a shopping mall by levelling the main attraction of the city and where the market for the mall doesn’t even exist? You need to think this through, Buntala.
Anyway, the one who was most vocal against this plan was of course, our Hero, Nara. But unfortunately (yes you knew this was coming), his parents sent him out of Warita Dikara to study in the city, for the better.
That marks the first half of the story.
The second half of the story began with a new character being introduced, Sigra, apparently the main heroine of the story, and a possible second love interest of Nara’s. (Oh wait I didn’t tell you the first one huh? Nara had a love interest, a sweet village girl, reaaaally sweet, except just one thing, she’s as dense as concrete)
Sigra is an energetic, over-protected city girl who dreams of seeing the world, but her parents (her mom is pretty really), especially her father, was way too over-protective as Sigra is an only child. After long negotiations, Sigra was finally allowed to have her first trip out of the city, where to? You guess it, Warita Dikara.
She immediately fall in love with Warita Dikara, a forest not made of concrete, flower fields with flowers of many colours other than monotonous grey of the city, people who are kind to each other unlike those I-don’t-give-a-fuck people from where she came from, and the story teller she adore the most, Grandpa Smong.
And home came Nara, all changed with his fancy suits fitting of a well-educated city pricks, ahem, guy I mean. His mindset changed, it’s now about business and change and all the how-to of, ah you guessed it again, make a difference.
“He’s an educated person now, graduated from notable university, he’s itching to be….. more!”
Nara met Sigra, who mistakenly thought he’s another adventurer who wants to sight-see thus offering her help to guide him through Warita Dikara ONLY to be embarrassed when Nara actually knew everyone there. Oh yes I loved that scene.
Ah, continuing on, Buntala sees this as a chance, a chance to make his old enemy as his new ally. And so Nara joined Buntala, progressing the project further than Buntala can ever get, and become the second hated person in Warita Dikara. And he had a fight with his friends, his parents, everyone.
Everyone except for one, Sigra.
Sigra, who lovingly and kindly explains to Nara what she loved from Warita Dikara. Sigra, who told Nara how coming from the city to Warita Dikara was the best thing that ever happened to her. And Sigra, who told Nara that his father’s run-off-the-mill bookstore is her favourite part of Warita Dikara and how lucky he is to have grown up there.
Long story short, Sigra helped changed Nara’s mind, Nara helped changed Buntala’s mind, the mall is cancelled, other change is applied without changing what’s already good, everybody’s happy, everybody’s dancing.
Now in my opinion, the story itself is lovable. It’s simple, with its main storyline going, and add humour here and there and a little bit of romance to keep the audience interested. The conflict is light but defined nicely what’s happening, and rather relatable to today’s society. Just one big fault I can possibly think of, it lacks a climax.
Not the climax really, but after the climax, the story conveniently jump ahead to “happy ever after”. I’m not satisfied with that.
This is probably what I love most from this year’s Rentak Harmoni, I love the small details they so thoughtfully add to the drama. Like how the people in Warita Dikara greets each other, it’s a hand movement circling your face and then you bring your hand forward as if offering something, it’s polite and lovely.
Also is notably beautiful is the manner of their speeches, the rich vocabulary used makes it not boring to listen to the character talks with each other. They used wholly my original language, barely used slang at all, in today’s world where every word is warped, it’s a delight to hear really.
And I love their clothing, to show how colourful Warita Dikara is, the casts are so colourfully clothed, it’s easy in the eye and different than how the “people from the city” are dully dressed.
And what I love the most from the detail is probably the dancers, who, whenever the music starts and the people started to sing, came out and dance around them. It complements and strengthen the mood. (Now I may just write this because my friend is one of the choreographer and I just want to make her happy, hey, that’s what friends are for! Or I may write this truthfully, your guess)
The music is outstanding. That’s all that needs to be spoken of. Eighteen songs were made specifically for this show. The orchestra accompany the whole show and creates the mood, it’s nothing special but it was well-executed.
The Casts and Characters.
To think that they’re all volunteer, the casts are nicely picked.
Grandpa Smong is my country’s typical old men, wise and funny. The cast execute him excellently despite the excessive shoulder limping. The manner of speeches is truly that of and old man, but when he sang, boy did his voice changed to this awesome bass.
Nara, well a handsome village boy with all his poetic problem and mental dilemma we all can relate to. Buntala, well the casts is good enough to make us all hate him in the show. Sigra is also well done by the cast as the girl who depicted her was as funny and energetic as can be.
Other notable characters and cast would be Grandma Elina, a tempestuous yet caring old friend of Grandpa Smong; Nara’s friend: Har, Ellon, and Genta, each with their uniqueness; Madam Jenitra, an honest politician but easily swayed and her faithful yet over-expressive secretary; Buntala’s flirtatious and annoying secretary; Loko the outgoing, all-knowing and gossipy newspaper guy; and Sigra’s mother who’s really pretty (lol).
One thing that made me green with envy is that all of them can sing.
It was brilliant, I totally didn’t waste my money on this one, it was for the better.