Actor, playwright, broadcaster and singer Kwame Kwei-Armah will direct the musical that he previously wrote and premiered at Baltimore Center Stage, where he is artistic director.
“Few artistes have had as big an effect on the world as Bob Marley. Even fewer as big an effect on me,” he said. “I feel continually blessed and honoured to dance with Bob in this way.”
Cedella Marley, the reggae legend’s daughter, is elated that the musical will be performed in an area where her famous father had a large following.
“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,” she said in a statement.
“Birmingham is a natural place for its UK premiere. With its great mix of cultures, it’s a city where my father performed to audiences that were captivated by his presence, and we have no doubt that telling the story through music to a new generation in Birmingham will be part of his continuing legacy.”
Presented in cooperation with the Marley family and Tuff Gong Pictures LP, and developed with the support of Blue Mountain Music, the musical tells the story of Marley’s rise from Third World star to global icon. It also shows his influence in bringing peace to politically divided Jamaica in the 1970s.
Bob Marley left Jamaica in December 1976 following an assassination attempt at his St Andrew home. It took place one day before the Smile Jamaica concert in Kingston, where he was the headline act.
Marley, his wife Rita and manager Don Taylor were shot. After the show, he and his Wailers band left Jamaica for London, where he spent almost two years in self-imposed exile.
During this period, Marley recorded the Exodus and Kaya albums. The former, released in 1977, stayed in the British album charts for 56 consecutive weeks and was named Best Of The Century by TIME Magazine in 1999.
In 1978, Marley returned to Jamaica, where the political situation had deteriorated, to perform the One Love Peace Concert.
During the performance, at the insistence of Marley, the leaders of the two opposing political parties came on stage, where he joined their hands in symbolic unity, “resulting in a transformative moment in the history of the country’s difficult political journey,” according to Playbill.
“One Love: The Bob Marley Musical” is presented by the Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company in association with Playful Productions and Stage Play Limited.
It will begin performances March 10, 2017, at Birmingham Repertory Theatre.