Malaysian Mouseketeers keep iconic Disney show alive in SE Asia

'Club Mickey Mouse' is the number one show on Disney Channel. — Picture courtesy of Disney Channel
'Club Mickey Mouse' is the number one show on Disney Channel. — Picture courtesy of Disney Channel

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PETALING JAYA, June 25 — Mention The Mickey Mouse Club and names such as Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and Ryan Gosling instantly pop to mind.

Decades later, donning the famous Mickey ears are still in fashion, but this time closer to home in Southeast Asia, thanks to the revival of the iconic variety television show in 2017.

Rechristened Club Mickey Mouse and in its third season, it is the number one show on Disney Channel Asia with an all-Malaysian team of Mouseketeers.

They are made up of Head Mouseketeer Charis Ow, 28 and Mouseketeers Gabriel Noel Pountney, 18, Dheena Menon Jayadeep, 15, Erissa Puteri Hashim, 16, Mohd Wafiy Ilhan Johan, 17, Ahmad Faiz Najib Omar, 17, and Ellya Keesha Zarif Ahmed Zaharani, 16.

“Everyone has heard of Mickey Mouse Club even if you’ve never watched it.

“Because you hear about Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera being on it before and it’s such an iconic brand. We just never thought we’d be a part of it,” Pountney told Malay Mail during the shooting for season three.

Being in Club Mickey Mouse has earned the Mouseketeers a firm following — there’s even a varsity jacket for die-hard followers, not just in Malaysia but also in Indonesia and the Philippines.

Each weekly episode features original songs, comedy skits, games and celebrity guests where viewers will get to watch the Mouseketeers in action, singing, dancing and hosting.

The Mouseketeers with celebrity guest Maya Karin. — Picture courtesy of Disney Channel
The Mouseketeers with celebrity guest Maya Karin. — Picture courtesy of Disney Channel

The third season’s premiere saw Malaysian-German actress Maya Karin taking part in a circus-themed episode, while this week will feature Korean YouTube stars Blimey.

“Each season has new artistes, new songs and new dance steps. Our confidence level has improved in terms of how to navigate the programme and there are fewer takes now,” said Wafiy.

Presented in English with a smattering of Bahasa Malaysia, the bilingual show has also helped Mouseketeers like Wafiy improve his English.

Dheena found learning the songs and choreography in a matter of weeks the most challenging aspect of the show but said the team got along like a house on fire within a few hours of meeting each other for the first time.

Ow may be twice the Mouseketeers’ age but the big kid at heart who won the coveted role as Head Mouseketeer thanks to her baby face and petite frame said the camaraderie they shared extended beyond the set.

“We even hang out off set and have pizza nights together,” Ow said.

The self-confessed kid at heart said winning the role of Head Mouseketeer caught her by surprise as producers were looking for someone aged between 18 and 24.

“The height and the babyface contributed. Until now people still think I’m Gabriel’s age or a few years older than them which I’m thankful for,” said Ow.

(From left) Pountney, Erissa, Wafiy, Ow, Faiz, Dheena and Ellya star in the third season of the iconic variety show. — Picture courtesy of Disney Channel
(From left) Pountney, Erissa, Wafiy, Ow, Faiz, Dheena and Ellya star in the third season of the iconic variety show. — Picture courtesy of Disney Channel

Asked how the school-going Mouseketeers juggle their studies and filming, Erissa said being on set helped her as a stress reliever from her school routine.

“We shoot after school and during school holidays, so it’s a good thing,” Erissa said.

On dealing with fame in school, the Mouseketeers said they were just like regular kids, even facing the wrath of teachers for not finishing their homework.

“It helps us learn to manage our time wisely so when you’re at school you have to focus on studying — you don’t get to do that at home because you’re shooting,” added Ellya.

That balancing act will come in handy for Faiz and Wafiy who will be sitting for their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations later this year.

“It’s not easy but if this is our passion, it won’t be a problem because we can do it,” said Faiz.

Club Mickey Mouse airs Fridays, 1pm on Disney Channel (Astro Ch 615) and is also available on Astro GO and On Demand.

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