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NZ-educated star returns for Indonesia’s big night

Sep 17th, 2008 | By | Category: Latest News

KIWI-EDUCATED Tora Sudiro never thought he was going to be a movie star when he returned to his hometown Jakarta 15 years ago.

But once he starred in Indonesian blockbuster Arisan – in which he kissed another male actor – fame was guaranteed.

It made him one of the most sought-after performers in a recent Night with the Stars organised by the Indonesian Embassy in Wellington.

It was stand-up comedian and actor Tora Sudiro’s first visit to New Zealand since he completed high school in Auckland in 1993.

“I came here with ‘home work’ from an Indonesian director I am working with, to find inspiration for his upcoming movie about Indonesian students studying abroad and I will be playing one of them [the students],” says Tora.

“The makeup artist will have to make me look really young,” adds the 35-year-old father of two.

Apart from his excitement at being back in New Zealand, Tora said he was sad to find no tree on One Tree Hill: “It was my favourite hangout spot when I lived in Auckland.”

The Wellington event celebrated Indonesia’s 63rd Independence Day and the half century of bilateral relationships with New Zealand. A similar celebration event took place in Auckland the following day.

Indonesian Ambassador Amris Hassan said proceeds from Auckland and Wellington ticket sales amounted to about $18,000 and would be donated to help restore the Art Academy Kesejahteraan Sosial in a tsunami-devastated area of Yogyakarta.

The Wellington show was opened by a group of Yapong and Balinese dancers, followed by a duet performance by local residents Lia Subandrio and Dessy Aryanti.

Indonesian celebrities who flew in for the celebration were Brazilian-born singer and movie star Dewi Sandra, pop singer Marcel Siahaan, radio host Arie Dagink and dancer/choreographer Didi Nini Towo.

In a duet with Dewi Sandra, Marcel Siahaan’s latest single Amazing was the highlight of Night with the Stars. Dewi sang her own pop compositions and a rendition of When I Fall in Love.

Didi’s “new creation” solo dance concept features masked dances in which he portrays various characters from human to animal, feminine to masculine. He has previously collaborated with New Zealand composer Gareth Farr in a performance in Wellington for the 10th anniversary celebration of Te Papa.

Among many Pakeha at Night of the Stars, Christchurch Nathan Forsyth was impressed: “I thought it was just going to be another concert night and even though I wasn’t familiar with some of the songs, they really swept me off my feet.”

PICTURE: Dancer/choreographer Didi Nini Towo in one of his many guises


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is a Whitireia Journalism student.
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