Not real mud, of course, even though Kuala Lumpur literally means “muddy estuary”. The Panggung Bandaraya, or City Theatre, is the home of MUD: Our Story of Kuala Lumpur.
In all honesty, I wasn’t expecting much from this musical, which our guide Jane had specially arranged for us to watch. I should have trusted that her recommendations would be nothing short of stellar, since she’d been taking us to the very best food and cultural spots in KL outside of our official itinerary. It was a blazing hot day and I was just glad to be out of the afternoon sun.
The Neo-Moorish building features a colonial-style interior.
Of course we were sneaking about, taking pictures, and one of us managed to find the cast hiding backstage before the start of the 50-minute show. I wish I’d had the chance to interview them!
I thought it’d be yet another touristy production with special effects and fancy moves, but there was none of that. Instead I was completely caught up in the multilingual dialogue, the live singing, the dance and dikir barat. The small, carefully restored theater also contributed a sense of authenticity and intimacy to the performance. At the saddest part, seeing the despair on the actors’ faces, I even teared up.
Though I’ve visited plenty of times, I never really bothered to learn about Malaysia’s history even though it’s practically next door, because the priority was always shopping. This trip included much more of local food and culture; I was pleasantly surprised to find that Kuala Lumpur’s museums and cultural offerings, like MUD KL, are low-profile but very well done.