Stage set for Sarawak Harvest and Folklore Festival’s return with Rentap musical

Anding enacts a scene during rehearsal.

KUCHING (August 14): The Sarawak Harvest and Folklore Festival returns August 18-20 at the iconic Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV).

The musical drama ‘Rentap – The Battle of Bukit Sadok’ will take place on August 18-19 at the festival, which started in 1996.

Narration, with scenes to be brought to life with theatrical effects in an indoor theater, reveals the untold story of the legendary warrior Rentap’s formative years.

For those who can’t witness the live show, the festival offers live streaming on and digital access is priced at RM30 per view.

“Rentap – The Battle of Bukit Sadok” stars Anding Indrawani as Rentap, Melissa Francis as Sawai, Jay Iswazir as Roslan, Nick Jansen as White Rajah, Arwan Umar as Orang Kaya Nanang, Shakira Stephen as Suntey and Abdul Wahab as Dana Bayang. .

The one-hour and 30-minute production includes melodies composed by Jerry Kamit, while Depha of Masterpiece fame performs the original soundtrack of ‘Rentap’.

Zaini Zainuddin, festival director and SCV Sales, Marketing and Events director, said the inspiration for the production was the success of the 2021 musical drama ‘Putri Santubong’.

“The success of ‘Putri Santubong’ was a catalyst for us to further explore our rich cultural heritage.

“Choosing Rentap’s story was a fitting tribute as it aligns with the 60th anniversary of Sarawak Independence celebration,” he told The Borneo Post.

Zaini said it took a year to develop the ambitious production, which encompasses various stages including screenwriting, story development, stage design and more.

“The selection of local talent for the musical was a deliberate move to showcase outstanding skills in acting, singing and performing arts within the ensemble.

“Seventy percent of the staff is made up of local artists, with the rest complemented by national talents like Jay Iswazir, Arwan and Shakira Stephen.

“The cast needed to be adept at singing in a short time and be proficient in the Iban language. “60 percent of the musical is transmitted in Iban, the rest in Bahasa Melayu and English.”

He added that the hope is to eventually turn the musical into a movie or a TV series.

“With the strong support of the government and our community, we believe this is an achievable effort,” said Zaini.

Abdul plays Dana Bayang, the leader of the Iban raid.

Anding, who plays Rentap, said being involved in the musical was a transformative journey.

“After two years of musical hiatus, when opportunity knocked on my door, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. “It’s something I’ve been looking forward to, and playing such an important character presents an exciting challenge that pushes the limits of my stage acting abilities.”

The versatile nature of theater, which required mastery of acting, singing, dancing, and quick script memorization, was a chance for him to step out of his comfort zone.

“Learning Iban lines and executing tough fight scenes is both physically and mentally demanding. As actors, we need to prepare very well for daily rehearsals,” said Akıncı, adding that the rehearsals have been going well since August 1 and they are now at the stage of combining nine scenes.

“The message of this musical is patriotism. Get to know our history, especially our local heroes who fought for our land, and what we have achieved today is only thanks to the people who fought to their last breath to save our beloved land.

“History may repeat itself in the future, so learn from it and do your best to preserve our lands for future generations,” Anding said.

Playing Rentap’s wife, Sawai, Melissa shared the excitement of her first journey into the world of theater, particularly an Iban-language production.

“This is a new and exciting chapter in my career. While people may know me as a singer and a business woman, this is a departure from the familiar. Reviving Sawai has been an inspiration and a welcomed challenge.

“Unlike my past acting experiences in music videos, this live theatrical performance does not feature retakes that require flawless execution from start to finish,” he said.

Melissa urged the audience to wholeheartedly support this unique effort.

Jansen, who plays the lead character of Rajah Brooke, talked about his personal journey in the creation of the musical.

“I was never comfortable on stage, in front of people. However, thanks to this project, I am gradually overcoming these fears.

“I like to take on projects that are outside of my comfort zone. “After embarking on a career of filming, creating content and releasing a song, it was time for the next step: to take part in an exciting musical.”

Collaborating with the supporting cast, dancers and production crew allowed Jansen to explore the complexities of creating a great production and gain a new appreciation for the effort behind the scenes.

“I hope audiences will be enchanted by the magnificence of this production, which connects deeply with Sarawak’s rich history,” he added.

Abdul expressed his pride in bringing Dana Bayang to life.

“Providing lines and dialogues in Iban is a challenge. It’s a real test of our commitment to authenticity as we need to grasp the nuances of each sentence to ensure our pronunciation and intonation are correct while staying true to the character’s personality.

“Still, I am proud to be a part of this musical production that embodied the character of the wealthy Pemancha Dana Bayang during her tenure as ‘tuai kayau’ (Iban raid leader),” he said.

He stated that the musical not only entertains but also educates, offering a window into the past and the cultural heritage of the region.

We hope that the audience will both enjoy and enrich with ‘Rentap – The Battle of Bukit Sadok’.”

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