On the heels of the news a musical based on Bob Marley’s childhood will debut in Jamaica this coming January, another musical chronicling the attempted assassination of the legendary singer and his self-imposed exile to the U.K. will debut in Maryland next May.
The musical, simply titled Marley was written by Kwame Kwei-Armah, the artistic director for Center Stage theatre in Baltimore, where the musical will run from May 6 to June 15 of next year. The premiere will be a collaboration between Centre Stage and New York’s Public Theatre.
Marley focuses particularly on the period of 1976-1978, particularly December of 1976 when Marley, his wife Rita Marley and then manager, Don Taylor were shot following an ambush at the singer’s Hope Road residence. Two days after the shooting, Marley performed the Smile Jamaica concert as scheduled, but would relocate to England with his family due to fears over his safety.
In a recent interview with the Baltimore Sun, Kwei-Armah said he always had an intention to do a musical based on a specific moment of his life rather than his entire life and had been ‘blown away’ by the singer’s music. He agreed to do the musical after theatre producers in London approached him about the idea, but delayed the project after initially being unable to acquire the rights to Marley’s life story.
Additionally, Kwei-Armah told the official Bob Marley website, “I came to truly appreciate Bob Marley during my own period of transformation as an artist. Writing this piece is my way of paying tribute to all that I’ve learned from Marley over the years, and it is very humbling to have the opportunity to bring his story to the stage.”
Bob Marley’s daughter, Cedella Marley released a statement intimating that her family was happy to work with the director/playwright on the musical. “We are thrilled to be working both with Kwame and with Center Stage to bring part of our father’s story to life in a way that has never been done before. “When it comes to our father’s work and legacy, we have always been mindful in selecting the artists with whom we choose to collaborate. We couldn’t be more excited about the team that is assembled for this project.”
Marley will also include music released from Marley during that period from his albums, Exodus, Kaya and Rastaman Vibrations.
This musical will debut a few months after Nesta’s Rock, a musical based on Bob Marley’s childhood that is being produced by the Jamaica Musical Theatre Company (JMTC) and co-written by Samantha Chin Yee and Jodi Ho Lung.
Casting for Marley is expected to begin soon.