Bob Marley’s short life was an inspiration to so many people around the world, and recently his memory has inspired a bio-musical named in his honor.
The Bob Marley musical, known simply as Marley, opened with its world premiere on May 8, 2015, at Centre Stage theatre in Baltimore, Maryland – just three months after what would have been Bob Marley’s 70th birthday. Bob Marley tragically died in 1981 at age 36.
The musical centres on the two years following Bob Marley’s departure from Jamaica in 1976, spurred by an assassination attempt on himself, his wife, Rita, and several of their friends.
This two-year period, thought of as Bob Marley’s “self-imposed exile,” was a time of great change, turmoil, and creativity for Marley and his wife, reported DC Theatre Scene. Based from a small apartment in Shepherd’s Bush, London, Marley rediscovered his Rasta religious faith and clearly defined his beliefs in “one love” and peace. It was during this time that Bob Marley wrote many of his most famous and influential songs, including “Could You Be Loved,” “Jammin’,” “Redemption Song,” “Waiting in Vain,” “No Woman No Cry,” and “Is This Love.”
Bob Marley also spent much of this time involved in an affair with Miss World.
Jayne Blanchard in DC Theatre Scene beautifully summarizes this tumultuous time in the life of Bob Marley, as played by Mitchell Brunings.
“[Mitchell Brunings] captures the fervor, faith and contradictions of a man so dedicated to peace and freedom through music, but also hurting over the poverty and political unrest ravaging his Jamaica.”
Baltimore Magazine notes that Mitchell Brunings, a newcomer to the theatre scene but no stranger to performing, shot to fame in Season 4 of Holland’s version of The Voice with his rendition of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”.
Brunings appears to have been the perfect choice to reprise the role of Bob Marley, with social media and performance reviews only having positive comments to make about his performance.
The Voice Contestant Makes The Perfect Bob Marley Actor http://t.co/isuyFoSkj1
— IReggaeNation.com (@IReggaeNation) May 4, 2015
Brunings is not the only cast member receiving praise, DC Theatre Scene explained.
“The entire cast… who embody the zeitgeist of the mid to late 1970s with the passion and crazy energy of the post-Woodstock era.”
The set design has also been commended as it features a unique turntable with an oversized giant record center stage, rotating throughout which allows the actors to move in a way that simulates the playing of a record and alludes to the passage of time.
Bob Marley’s affair with Miss World leads to a duet between Marley and his wife Rita (played by Saycon Sengbloh) – a mash-up of “Waiting in Vain” and “No Woman No Cry,” which many reviewers have heralded as the highlight musical performance in the show.
Marley Premieres At Center Stage Marley Premieres At Center Stage. She and Brunings’ duet that combines “No Woman… http://t.co/QzXlDeSJaX
— VOFN Gombe (@VOFNGombe) May 14, 2015
Show goers at the Wednesday, May 13, 2015, performance were in for a surprise treat, with Bob Marley’s daughter Cedella Marley being escorted on stage at the conclusion of the play.
The Bob Marley musical will play through to June 14, 2015, in Baltimore, before beginning the rest of its world tour.