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From 7 to 23 Jul 2022, leading Singaporean theatre company Wild Rice will be presenting Don’t Call Him Mr. Mari Kita, a musical tribute to the late Zubir Said, most widely known as the man who composed the Singapore national anthem, ‘Majulah Singapura’. Besides the anthem, which is also colloquially called ‘Mari Kita’ after the first line of the song, Said also composed other beloved classics such as ‘Semoga Bahagia’, ‘Sayang Disayang’ and ‘Orang Singapura’.
Written and performed by Julian Wong, one of Singapore’s leading music directors, Don‘t Call Him Mr. Mari Kita is, in essence, a celebration of the life and times of the great composer. Wong created the show as a tribute to his teacher’s teacher, as Zubir Said taught music to Wong’s mentor, the late Iskandar Ismail.
“I hope to show audiences that Zubir Said was so much more than just the composer of our National Anthem – his music, his life, his sacrifices, and the courage of his convictions are all equally noteworthy,” said Wong.
“At a time of ongoing uncertainty and division, I think there is no better composer whose music can unite us.”
This will be the first time Don’t Call Him Mr. Mari Kita will be performed for the general public. The production had originally been slated to premiere in 2021, but it had to be postponed and, ultimately, cancelled due to tightened pandemic restrictions. As such, only four private performances of the show were produced to raise funds for Wild Rice.
Speaking on being able to put on the show after all the delays, director and Cultural Medallion winner Ivan Heng expressed his happiness about finally being able to welcome audiences to Don’t Call Him Mr. Mari Kita. “This very special show is a love letter to Singapore’s music and history, and is essential viewing for anyone who calls Singapore home,” he added.
Zubir Said made history with his music. In 1958, he composed ‘Majulah Singapura’ – the iconic song that has galvanised our nation, and is still sung all over the island to this very day. But there is so much more to Zubir Said’s remarkable career than the song that has come to define it.
Intent on pursuing his dream of becoming a musician, Said defied his father’s wishes and left his village in Bukittinggi, West Sumatra, to settle in Singapore. Over 40 years, he became one of the pioneers of Singapore’s nascent music industry – composing close to 1,500 songs as well as countless film scores. Later in his life, he dedicated his time to teaching children how to read, play and love music.
Audiences are invited to come and meet the man behind the melody we all know by heart. In this joyful, moving and inspiring celebration of Zubir Said’s life and legacy, Julian Wong – one of Singapore’s most acclaimed music directors – pays loving tribute to his teacher’s teacher. Directed with keen insight and visual flair by Cultural Medallion winner Ivan Heng, this production incorporates archival footage from Singapore’s golden age of cinema and stunning period costumes to evoke the style and glamour of a 1960s television variety show.
Accompanied by some of Singapore’s most accomplished musicians and young vocalists, Julian will bring you the best of Zubir Said’s songbook – from beloved classics such as ‘Semoga Bahagia’, ‘Sayang Disayang’ and ‘Orang Singapura’, to rare musical gems long thought to have been lost forever.
You’ll never sing ‘Mari Kita’ in the same way again!
Those who have had the chance to catch Don’t Call Me Mr. Mari Kita during the private performances last year had stellar impressions of its moving storyline and motivations.
Local Jazz maestro, Cultural Medallion Winner of 2002, and Public Service Medal Recipient of 2021, Jeremy Monteiro said that Julian Wong did an amazing job and he is patently the “anointed one to tell Pak Zubir’s story”.
“We were so touched and so deeply moved by the show. To think that we continually search for our Singapore identity and our sense of belongingness, when it’s right here under our noses in the music and sentiments expressed by the very composer of our national anthem, Zubir Said,” Monteiro said. “As a 61-year-old man who just had a national medal given to me, I can say that I have never felt my Singaporean-ness more deeply than I did tonight.”
Datuk Ramli Sarip, a pioneer of the Singapore Rock and Metal scene, said that Don’t Call Him Mr. Mari Kita was “Soulful, spiritual, brilliantly produced and with so much depth”.
“I learned so much about Pak Zubir’s story, and Julian’s telling of it reminded me of my own story – of how my dad opposed me doing things I wanted to do. The show reminded me of how happy and honoured I am to be a Singaporean,” he expressed.
About Wild Rice
Wild Rice was founded in 2000 by Ivan Heng, an internationally acclaimed and award-winning theatre practitioner, and is recognised today as one of Singapore’s leading professional theatre companies.
Its mission is to provide an open forum for the shared experience of theatre: celebrating our diversity; reflecting on the problems and possibilities of our times; and presenting productions that inspire, challenge and entertain.
A commitment to the highest standards informs every aspect of Wild Rice’s creative work, which is first and foremost a celebration of Singapore’s theatrical talent. By producing and touring productions that are distinctively local in flavour and yet universal in vision and concerns, the company creates memorable experiences for audiences in Singapore and across the world.
Don’t Call Him Mr. Mari Kita
Don’t Call Him Mr. Mari Kita will be performed at the The Ngee Ann Kongsi Theatre @ Wild Rice in Funan from 7 to 23 Jul 2022. Performance times are 7:30pm on Tuesdays to Fridays, 2:30pm and 7:30pm on Saturdays, and 2:30pm on Sundays.
Ticket prices (excluding booking fees) are at S$25, S$35, S$40, and S$50 for performances on Tuesdays to Thursdays, and S$30, S$40, S$50, and S$60 for performances on Fridays to Sundays.
Wild Rice Angels are eligible for a 20% discount on Category 1 and 2 tickets, while Students, Senior Citizens, SAFRA members and Passion Card members are eligible for a 10% discount on Category 1 and 2 tickets.
To book tickets or to obtain more information, visit the official SISTIC website.