The Secret Life of Nora review

The Secret Life of Nora review

Star-studded cast, captivating story, beautiful melodies, dazzling costumes and impressive set and props. What can I say more? I was completely blown away by The Secret Life of Nora!

The Secret Life of Nora is a bilingual (Bahasa Malaysia and English) musical that tells the story of a popular prima donna—Nora—who then being dragged into a spy training programme by secret agent Roger Foss in order to rescue the victims from an evil plot by Mr. J.

The musical is produced by the critically-aclaimed company Enfiniti Vision Media, who also produced the award-winning Puteri Gunung Ledang and P.Ramlee the Musical. This time, Enfiniti has taken a big new step by collaborating with London West End director Steven Dexter and Broadway heartthrob Ryan Silverman.

Tiara Jacquelina as Nora.

The musical is like Charlie Angels and James Bond merged together in a musical way. To be frank, the whole theatre experience was very close to watching a Hollywood action movie live on stage, and I mean it in a good way.

It all started in the glitzy and glamorous 1960’s Malaya. Nora (played by Tiara Jacquelina) is a popular singer at “Kelabu Malami Theatre” with a massive fan base. As Nora is making a name for herself on stage, her manager Khatijah (played by Adibah Noor) and her assistant/best friend Betty (played by Stephanie Van Driesen) are always there for her in every step behind the stage.

Adibah Noor as Khatijah and Stephanie Van Driesen as Betty.

On the other hand, Agent Roger (played by Ryan Silverman) and Agent Farouk (played by Tony Eusoff) received the news that girls who have been lured into the “J Hearts New New World Theatre” would never return.

Ryan Silverman as Agent Roger Foss and Tony Eusoff as Agent Farouk.

In order to save the victims and eradicate the evil operation by the villain Mr. J (played by Aznil Nawawi) and his loyal assistant Sharif (played by Aaron Khaled), Agent Roger and Agent Farouk recruited Nora and trained her to become a top spy so that she can disguise herself as a singer while breaking into J Hearts’ secret laboratory.

Aznil Nawawi as Mr. J and Aaron Khaled as Sharif.

A thrilling mission that brought Nora and Roger together has made them discover and become more than who they can be. And at later stage, they become more than just trainer and trainee.

Inspired by the famous 60s spy movie, Nora Zain, the story of The Secret Life of Nora has got all the important ingredients right to be successful. Stuffed with just the right amount of humour, romance, action and thriller, the musical is guaranteed to give you an unforgettable experience.

When it comes to the crucial part of a musical—the music—composer Onn San and lyricist Alfian Sa’at have done a remarkable job. Not only the melodies are beautiful, they are also memorable and emotionally provoking. Songs like “Pancaran Cahaya”, “Kau yang Menulis”, “A Twinkle in the Dark” and “Layakkah Aku” are just some of the awe-inspiring pieces.

Pair those songs with the most talented, award-winning singers/actors like Tiara Jacquelina, Adibah Noor and Ryan Silverman, it is almost impossible for the audience not to indulge themselves in the musical.

Scene transition was nothing like any other local musical productions I have seen. They were seamless and very well planned. I really like the transition in the first scene when the showgirls finished a show and how they lower the curtain at the back of the stage to depict the transition from the front stage to the backstage. It was just Brilliant!

All the quick transitions were made possible by a specially designed stage set where 6 three-storey high steel towers with different sides can be rotated into different combination to form different scenes.

The costume design of the show was phenomenal. The costumes have totally helped to set the mood of the show and bring the characters to life.

The number of costumes Nora changed throughout the show was just incredible. Not forgetting to mention that the designers paid attention to every single detail till the end of the show like the shinny black stripes on Mr. J’s prisoner costume during the curtain call.

One of my favourite scenes is when Nora was lost in the jungle in the middle of her spy training and Agent Roger suddenly appeared and guided her to keep going. That’s when they both started to develop interest for each other.

They both sang the lovely duet “A Twinkle in the Dark” with fireflies effect in the background and slowly they were being lifted into the air!

The musical has a lot more surprises in store for the audience throughout the show, like Agent Farouk and Khatijah flying across the stage with jet packs, appearance of an exotic albino python and a real explosion on stage.

I must say that The Secret Life of Nora has just set a new standard for local musical production. In fact, if they fix all the kinks (especially the ending) I believe it is good enough to be on the international stage.

I stepped out of Istana budaya and can’t help but to feel proud and happy, that we are finally witnessing an international-standard local musical production right before our eyes.

If you can only choose one musical to watch this year, no doubt The Secret Life of Nora is the show to watch. And I’m telling you, it will worth every single penny you spent.

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