Hear ye! Hear ye! There’s a new attraction in town and we’ve got the 101 on it for you right here!
From the Impression series of world-acclaimed performances in China comes Encore Melaka, specially curated and directed by Wang Chaoge (the creative force behind the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremony) to express her feelings for Melaka, its past, present and future.
Having just opened its doors on 7 July 2018, Encore Melaka puts up a magnificent and spectacular show. Expect emotive storytelling, high-energy choreography, vivid stage settings with creative lighting and unbelievable stage effects along with a score of moving music that will not only inspire audiences but capture their imagination, too.
We had a chance to be among the first to view the performance on its grand launch, which coincided with the very date that Melaka was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage City in 2008, and came away fully impressed (no pun intended)!
Here’s a sneak peek of what to expect of this awe-inspiring show that spans 700 years of story-telling through beautiful costumes, light, music, dance, folklore and history, all using top-notch technology that will blow your mind away!
- A new landmark in Melaka: The theatre itself is a work of art! Overlooking the scenic Straits of Melaka, it sets a new landmark in Melaka with its contemporary design. The façade is tiled with fish scale-like LED panels which reflect light from the ever-changing and vibrant sky of Melaka. It is the largest permanent theatre in Malaysia designed by chief architect Wang Ge from the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design, and is purpose-built for Encore Melaka and nothing else! Tip: Come early before the show to catch the beautiful sunset scene of the theatre hall against the Straits of Melaka.
- State-of-the-art theatre hall: This theatre hall is unlike any other. The audience seats are situated in what seems to be an island surrounded by massive screens. In fact, to get to your seats, you will have to cross rhino over the stage! Seating capacity is 2,000 and it has state-of-the-art theatre technology including a sophisticated hydraulics system to support the 240 meter-long stage, multi-layered stages, advanced audio and 3D video mapping projection equipment. All this technology is synchronised to create a vivid and immersive theatre experience for all.
- The 360 degree rotating audience platform: The “wow” factor of this theatre is definitely the 360 degree rotating audience platform surrounded by four stages, the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. The entire island of seats rotate automatically during the performance but you might not even realise the movements as the turns are so subtle. But, it will move you from stage to stage, bringing you a new perspective of the performance each time.
- Abstract storytelling: Don’t expect a linear re-telling of Melaka’s history in this show. Instead, Wang Chaoge wanted to compile cultural stories of Melaka and vignettes of life that reflected a society which embraced diversity and inclusiveness. There are snippets depicting Baba Nyonya wedding traditions, but in other scenes are abstract representations of Melaka and its people through symbolic adobe dance movements. Never mind if some of the scenes are too deep, the production itself, through artistic choreography, creative stage use, costumes and music, and 3D mapping technology, will keep you mesmerized.
- A performer’s dream: During the 70-minute live performance, about 200 local performers from all over Malaysia, aged between 18 and 63 years will take to the stage. The show’s producers proudly shared with us that putting together the show had brought about the realization of dreams for many of their performers. Indeed, the production supports the full-time careers of these performers and goes to show that the arts is well and truly alive in Malaysia.
- Memorable scenes: Keep your eyes open for some of the most memorable scenes of the performance: mesmerizing abstract lines dancing across the scene/stage depicting waves that later transform into a fleet of ships during the Cheng Ho scene; rows of shirtless drummers masterfully hitting drums in sync against projected imagery of waves; the water effects accompanied by emotive choreography in one of the show’s most thought-provoking dance sequence; the scene when a line of ladies dressed in colourful kebayas take on the stage with their stirring and nuanced performance. The show is presented in English, Malay, Mandarin, Tamil, and other local dialects, reflecting the multi-racial and multi-cultural society in Melaka, but even so, remember that theatre, dance and music breaks all barriers.
- The work of an accomplished director: The whole storyline of Encore Melaka is the brainchild of Wang Chaoge, after studying Melaka’s history, culture, traditions and people for two years. It showcases her own perceptions and interpretations of the Melaka culture, after immersing herself in its history, experiencing the modern Melaka and envisioning its future. In fact, she has been famously quoted as saying, “I did not choose Melaka; Melaka has chosen me…” when explaining why Melaka was handpicked out of 150 competing countries lobbying for their own Impression show.
- The tenth Impression series and first out of China: The Impression series was started in 1998 by Wang Chaoge, along with fellow directors Zhang Yimou and Fan Yue. In China, six Impression shows and three Encore shows have been created under the series. Some of the famous Impression series include Impression Sanjie Liu and Impression Lijiang which are outdoor performances utilizing natural backdrops of mountains, lakes and rivers. When Melaka was handpicked by Wang Chaoge as the coveted home of Encore Melaka, it made Malaysia the first country outside of China to continue the legacy of this well-established performance series.
- Impression City in Melaka – The Encore Melaka theatre is part of a larger waterfront integrated mixed development called Impression City Melaka which encompasses hotels, serviced apartments, commercial complexes, office towers, educational and wellness facilities, a shopping mall, retail shops, a yatch club and a marina. The landmark 56 ha project with a gross development value of RM7 billion, is being developed by Yong Tai Berhad and expected to be ready in eight to ten years’ time. Encore Melaka theatre will remain as the centerpiece of this new destination.
- Close proximity to other tourist attractions – The theatre is located in Melaka’s most prominent site, along the city’s waterfront, just 3.5 km from Jonker Street, a renowned China town in the city. It is quite close to the city’s shopping, historic and cultural areas. In fact, from the Melaka city centre, it will barely take you 15 minutes to reach the theatre site. Bear in mind, though, as the theatre is located within a new commercial district, there aren’t many retail outlets just yet, so it is best to dine in the city before going for the show.
Address: No. 1 Jalan KSB, Impression 8, Impression City @ Kota Syahbandar, 75200, Melaka, Malaysia.
Ticketing: The ticket prices is from RM128 onwards. Visit https://encore-melaka.com/ticketing for ticket purchase.
Show Time: Monday –Saturday (5.30pm 8.30pm); Sunday (2.30pm 5.30pm).