This past month I had the pleasure of viewing “Get Up, Stand Up: The Bob Marley Musical” in the West End, which followed the biography of singer-songwriter Bob Marley. As I reminisce on the production, the words “engaging, vibrant and emotive” instantly come to mind, reflecting my positive thoughts towards the show. To best describe my experience, I want to outline aspects of the show that I found particularly enjoyable and exceptional.
The first notable aspect of the show was the music. Unsurprisingly, majority of Bob Marley’s most recognised songs such as “Get up, stand up” and “Three Little Birds’ ‘ were performed, however, music from his early career was also given attention. Interestingly, the show also featured music from Rita Marley. I enjoyed the variety of songs that were chosen as it showed the progression and versatility of his music. Though Marley is largely known as a reggae artist, the content of his music is so vast and diverse, and it was great to see this communicated within the play. In regards to music, credit must be given to the casting team of this production, as the performers’ voices were simply breathtaking and often left me speechless. Additionally, I also liked how the show cleverly tied Marley’s music to his life events and showed differences in receptivity to the reggae sound in the various nations that Marley travelled to.
Another remarkable aspect of “Get Up, Stand up: The Bob Marley Musical” was its cultural richness. Being that Bob Marley was known to be incredibly proud of his Jamaican heritage, I appreciated how the production had such a focus on Jamaican culture, not just through music but also through the visuals of the set and language. Patois was spoken consistently throughout the play alongside Jamaican colloquialisms and satire; this was key in adding lightheartedness and relatability to the show.
Although there are endless features of this musical that can be celebrated, to bring this review to a close, I believe it is salient that I mention the atmosphere within the theatre and the strong connection between the actors and the audience. Earlier, I described the play as “emotive”, this is because it did a fantastic job of allowing audiences to feel the emotions as the characters in the play. When characters expressed happiness or cheer that was felt throughout the audience; when “Get up stand up” played and characters expressed great excitement people were moved to their feet instantly. Similarly in moments where the characters felt reflective, audiences showed similar emotions. Notably, there was a scene where Marley’s character spoke emotively about redemption and hope, and audiences responded with statements such as “Yes, Amen.” This demonstrates how connected audiences were throughout the production and how the depiction of Marley’s life events felt real to them
In summary, I would rate this show 4.5/5, I would highly recommend it and would gladly watch it again. Accolades to the director, writers, casting team and everybody involved as it was a brilliant production.