Birmingham to host UK premiere of 'Bob Marley Musical'
Birmingham has scooped the honour of staging the UK premiere of One Love: The Bob Marley Musical, which will have a month-long run in the city in March 2017.
The production, written and directed by British playwright and actor Kwame Kwei-Armah, will be staged at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, and will focus on a dynamic period of Marley’s life between 1975 and 1978.
It will tell the story of a man propelled from rising reggae star to global icon and brings Marley’s inspirational music catalogue to the stage for the first time. It will include classics such as No Woman No Cry, Exodus and Jamming.
However, Kewi-Armah, who is artist director at the Center Stage in Baltimore, has stressed that the production is no ‘jukebox musical’ where the songs take precedence over the plot.
He told the New York Times: “We have maybe 20 songs, but I’ve tried to make them come out of what I perceive to be an integrity that Bob would demand.
This is not ‘Here are some songs and how can I link them to some drama.’ There is an investigation into the man’s life, between him putting his life on the line and going into self-imposed exile for 18 months and while there, recording two of his biggest albums.
“Few artists have had as big an effect on the world as Bob Marley. Even fewer have had as big an effect on me. I feel continually honoured and blessed to dance with Bob in this way.”
Marley’s daughter Cedella said: “On behalf of the Marley family I am thrilled that our father’s story is going to be brought to the stage with this production.
“Birmingham is a natural place for this UK premiere, with its great mix of cultures – it’s a city where my father performed to audiences who were captivated by his presence, and we have not doubt that telling the story through music to a new generation in Birmingham will be part of his continuing legacy.”
The production focuses on the time when Marley left an increasingly violent Jamaica following an assassination attempt on the eve of a concert he was due to perform.
He spent almost two years in self-imposed exile in London where he recorded the internationally acclaimed albums Kaya and Exodus, which stayed in the British album charts for 56 consecutive weeks in 1978.
That year Marley finally returned to his beloved Jamaica where the political situation had deteriorated. He performed the One Love Peace Concert where he united the two opposing political parties on stage and joined their hands in symbolic unity. It resulted in a profound and transformative moment in Jamaica’s political history.
Born in the small village of Nine Mile in St Ann’s, where his mausoleum now stands, Marley was awarded Jamaica’s Order of Merit, the country’s third highest honour, for his outstanding contribution to the country’s culture.
The production will run in Birmingham from 10th March to 8th April 2017.