Arts Preview Singapore Theatre

Preview: Don’t Call Him Mr. Mari Kita by Wild Rice

How much do you know about Zubir Said, besides the fact that he composed our national anthem? This July, Wild Rice’s latest production will ensure you know enough about the great man that you’ll no longer refer to him as ‘Mr. Mari Kita’.

Don’t Call Him Mr, Mari Kita is a sensational new musical tribute to Zubir Said, who, besides the National Anthem, is also known for composing beloved classics such as Semoga Bahagia, Sayang Disayang and Orang Singapura. More than just his songs, Zubir Said also represents the fruits of one’s labour after pursuing their passions, having defied his father’s wishes and leaving his village in West Sumatra, to settle in Singapore to pursue his dreams of becoming a musician.

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, Zubir Said dedicated all his energies to teaching children how to read, play and love music.

Don’t Call Him Mr. Mari Kita was written and conceptualised by Julian Wong – one of Singapore’s most acclaimed music directors, who pays loving tribute to his teacher’s teacher – Zubir Said taught music to the late Iskandar Ismail, Wong’s mentor. “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,” says Wong. “At a time of ongoing uncertainty and division, I think there is no better composer whose music can unite us.”

The upcoming run in July 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 had to be postponed and, ultimately, cancelled due to tightened pandemic restrictions. Four private performances of the show were produced to raise funds for Wild Rice. “We are so glad to finally be welcoming audiences to Don’t Call Him Mr. Mari Kita,” says Ivan Heng, who will be directing the production. “This very special show is a love letter to Singapore’s music and history, and is essential viewing for anyone who calls Singapore home.”

Besides favourites from Zubir Said’s songbook, be sure to also look out for rare musical gems long thought to have been lost forever, all performed by some of Singapore’s most accomplished musicians and young vocalists. The production will also incorporate 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. This July, Wild Rice invites you 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; you’ll never sing ‘Mari Kita’ in the same way again!

Don’t Call Him Mr Mari Kita plays from 7th to 23rd July 2022 at Wild Rice @ Funan. Tickets available here

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