Our People

Dato’ Faridah Merican – Executive Producer & Co- Founder

Known as the First Lady of Malaysian Theatre, Faridah’s early acting credits include such plays as ‘Lela Mayang’, ‘Tok Perak’, ‘Uda dan Dara’ and ‘Alang Rentak Seribu’, works that defined the Malaysian theatre in the 60s and 70s, and determined the direction that theatre would take in the next few decades. In the early 60s, she joined Radio and TV Malaysia. Simultaneously, she was involved in the formative years of Malaysian Advertising, and is today, a member of the board of directors of Ogilvy & Mather. She also sits on the board of several other institutions.

In 1989, Faridah co-founded The Actors Studio with her husband Joe Hasham OAM. In June of 2003, floods destroyed the entire complex of The Actors Studio in Plaza Putra, Dataran Merdeka. Out of that devastation, Faridah’s ‘nothing is impossible’ attitude generated yet another ground-breaking event – the birth of The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre, set up by the YTL Group, Yayasan Budi Penyayang and The Actors Studio.

Faridah Merican was awarded the BOH Cameronian Lifetime Achievement Award for 2004. In July 2005, Faridah was conferred the ‘Darjah Dato’ Paduka Tuanku Ja’afar by the Yang Di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan on the occasion of His Highness’ 83rd Birthday. The following year, she received an Honorary Master of Letters at University Sains Malaysia’s 35th Convocation.  Finally in 2014,  Faridah received the Outstanding Achievement award under the Arts, Culture and Entertainment category from the Inaugural Malaysian Women of Excellence Awards.  Faridah now sits on The Laureate Advisory Board and is also the Executive Producer and co-founder of the Performing Arts Centre of Penang (penangpac).

Joe Hasham OAM – Artistic Director & Co- Founder

Joe was born in Tripoli, Lebanon, did his schooling in Sydney, Australia, moved to Malaysia in 1984 and is now a proud permanent resident of his adopted country. Joe is Artistic Director of The Actors Studio, which he set up with his wife Faridah in 1989 and also Artistic Director of The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre. Joe is a graduate of NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art) at the University of NSW, Sydney, Australia. Before he made the decision to come to Malaysia, he was one of the most sought after actors in Australia. Joe is a multi award winning film director, actor, writer and recording artist.

Joe was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM), within the Australian Honours System “For Service to the performing arts through The Actors Studio (Malaysia) and The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre; and, as an actor, writer, producer and director”. He is also the Artistic Director and co-founder of the Performing Arts Centre of Penang (penangpac).

klpac Resident Directors

In line with its aim to nurture young talent, klpac runs a residency programme giving young talents a safe space to hone their skills and craft. We started with just one full-time director as part of the programme, Gavin Yap. Since then, the programme has expanded and klpac boasts resident directors specialized in their individual artistic fields such as Mark Beau de Silva and Lex Lakshman Balakrishnan .

The residents are charged with presenting a wide range of performances and activities. They also run courses at our Academy. All  residents are also actively involved in our Community Outreach programme, bringing the arts to the underprivileged.

Mark Beau de Silva – Resident Director / Writer  

Mark Beau de Silva has been working in the arts since 2001, first as a stage manager, then writer and director with The Actors Studio. He has written several plays and musicals over the years including Stories for Amah, Oh My God, Big Head Potato Head and most recently Marrying Me. He is currently teaching children and teens drama at The Actors Studio Academy and is pursuing his Masters in Performing Arts.

Omar Ali – Resident Director 

488014_10152087742823029_268570551_nIn search of some sense to everything and nothing, Omar quit his desk-job some years ago and stumbled onto the brighter side of the stage – and he’s been loving it ever since.

His recent body of work include Sinbad: The Musical (April 2014), Rashomon (July 2013), Broken Bridges (May 2013), Philadelphia, Here I come! (Jan 2013), and Kiss of the Spider Woman (Dec 2012).

On the other side of the stage, he doubles as a set designer, alongside scenographer Yusman Mokhtar. Their recent work include SuperMokh: The Musical (Nov 2013), Philadelphia, Here I come! (Jan 2013), and Paper Crane (Aug 2012) which won Best Set Design at the 2012 ADA Theatre Awards.

In 2013, Omar was awarded the Short+Sweet Festival Director’s Award, and in 2014, his group won Best Overall Production as well as the Mercedes-Benz Malaysia Creative Excellence Award at the annual Short+Sweet Festival. He is currently a resident director at klpac.


Lee Kok Leong, Conductor & Music Director, klpac Orchestra 

Kok Leong

Kok Leong started active involvement in local orchestra performance as a violist. The orchestras he has been involved with include, Friends of Strings Chamber, National Symphony Orchestra (NSO), Galaxy Chamber Orchestra and klpac Orchestra, Penang Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO), Kuala Lumpur City Hall Orchestra and RTM Orchestra. He is also actively involved in sacred classical concerts organized by Yin Qi. Kok Leong made his conducting debut with Galaxy Chamber Orchestra in 2005 and was appointed Resident Conductor from 2007 to 2011. In 2010, he was appointed as training conductor for the klpac Orchestra until 2012 and received tutelage from the late Mr. Brian Tan, Resident Conductor and music director of the orchestra during that time. Later, he received conducting masterclasses from renowned pianist and conductor Mdm. Elaine Pao. Kok Leong is appointed as the conductor of Friends of Strings Chamber and held a concert on May 2014. Besides conducting, he is frequently engaged in ensemble playing, sharing his passion in music with his friends. He is now the resident conductor for klpac Orchestra.




Cheryl Mah, Resident Conductor & Music Director, klpac Symphonic Band

Cheryl Mah graduated from Elder Conservatorium of Music (Australia) with concurrent majors in Piano Performance and Music Education. She then completed Performance based Master Degree in Conducting and Directorship from Salford University (England, UK) under tutelages of Dr. David King and Dr. Roy Newsome, specializing in Brass Band Conducting.

As a music educator, she has been actively involved in conducting, lecturing, tutoring in local universities, school band camps and festivals, and as well adjudicating for local band competitions. Since 2008, she has been a part-time faculty member at UCSI University Music Department as Orchestra Conductor, where she conducts UCSIU Orchestra in regular concert performances, repertoires ranging from Bach to Prokofiev.

Cheryl was invited to represent the country in participating SEA Young Conductors’ Workshop (2009/2010) in Salaya Thailand, which jointly organized by Goethe-Instituts and College of Music, Mahidol University.

Apart from being active as band/orchestra conductor, Cheryl has played with various ensembles as Baritone Saxophonist -PJ Youth Symphonic Band, Greg Lyons Nonet. She is the co-founder of Birdian Saxophone Quartet and has performed extensively with the quartet in various occasions. Their recent concert appearance at klpac Pentas 2 “Simply the Original” featuring original literature for saxophone quartet was well-received.

Cheryl is currently Band Director of Confucian Symphonic Band, Assunta Symphonic Band, and has recently appointed as Band Director of klpac Symphonic Band. She is as well a woodwind/piano tutor based in the Klang Valley.