Nearly five years ago, Datuk Wira Boo Kuang Loon had a dream. He wanted to make his hometown Melaka the ultimate tourist destination. At a media preview event on May 28, hundreds of audience members witnessed the realisation of that impossible dream with Encore Melaka.
The 70-minute long show, which will open to the public July 1 at Impression City, Kota Laksamana, recounts the long-forgotten tales of the historic city, from the stories of the early voyagers to the birth of modern Melaka.
“I’m a Melaka boy and I’ve always wanted to do something for my hometown,” says Boo, the CEO of Yong Tai Berhad, a tourism and cultural-related property developer, in an interview before the Encore Melaka preview show.
“To be honest, I felt shy whenever my friends from overseas visited me because besides bringing them to the historic sites in the daytime and maybe host them for dinner, there’s nothing to show them at night,” he adds.
As a new landmark, the Encore Melaka theatre promises to write a new chapter in the state’s cultural entertainment history. It is the focal point of the multi-billion ringgit Impression City, an integrated mixed development by Yong Tai in Kota Laksamana.
In this part of the world, many would be familiar with tourism and cultural spectacles like the Siam Niramit Show in Bangkok and the water-based stage production The House of Dancing Water in Macau.
Encore Melaka, helmed by China-based artistic director Wang Chaoge, is a major new player on the list. It is a state-of-the-art production of Melaka’s beginnings and growth through a timeline of six centuries, as told by Wang.
The director and her team spent nearly two years studying Melaka’s history, culture, traditions and most importantly, the people.
“We did a thorough research to find out whether we are able to deliver a comprehensive introduction to the history of Melaka, its people, arts and culture,” says Wang, who was part of the team behind the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
The Encore Melaka theatre boasts innovative and stunning video projection mapping and multi-stage hydraulic sets, advanced lighting and features a 360-degree rotating audience platform. The show features 200 local performers.
“When I watched the Impression series in China, I knew this was what I wanted for Melaka. So I approached the Impression team and began working with them in 2013 to make the show possible,” shares Boo.
Encore Melaka is the 10th Impression series (established in 1998 by renowned directors Zhang Yimou, Fan Yue and Wang herself) and first outside of China.
“This is an exciting chapter for Melaka. We are pushing the envelope for the performance arts – the integration of storytelling with innovative stage technologies has never been seen before in South-East Asia,” he adds.
Encore Melaka is touted to be South-East Asia’s largest permanent show theatre that seats more than 2,000. The building was designed by Wang Ge from the Beijing Institute Of Architectural Design. It occupies 6ha of land and overlooks the scenic water view of the Straits of Melaka.
“Encore Melaka is set be a staple of our plans for attracting tourism (to Melaka) for many years to come,” concludes Boo.