We round up the reviews for the new musical based on the life and career of Bob Marley.
WhatsOnStage: *** “A closing montage of projected clips, reflecting on how aspects of Marley’s life still strike a chord with present-day issues, highlights how far the book really dropped the ball. From the climate crisis, rampant racist vernacular, exploitation of Black and mixed-race talent for the profit of white producers and questions around pan-African identity, there is so much that could have been said, on top of what was sung.”
The Upcoming: *** “Get Up, Stand Up! is an ambitious musical that succeeds fantastically well in its music thanks to some powerful performances by a stunning lead cast, but a frustratingly unfocused script holds it back from being brilliant. It’s not that it doesn’t do Bob Marley himself justice – it certainly touches on most of the aspects relating to his life – but it does so in a way that feels episodic, almost uncertain of itself.”
The Guardian: *** “Clint Dyer’s pulsating production has the spirit of a staged concert with spoken scenes tucked in between the songs, and with the emotional freight of the story carried in its celebrated music. Sometimes this means that character and dialogue are sacrificed but the music is infectious – and there is a central performance from Arinzé Kene that soars and tingles the spine.”
Evening Standard: **** “And as Bob would say, don’t worry – from the very first moment of this exuberant show, we know we’re in safe hands. By the standards of the genre, this may be a fairly conventional jukebox musical – there’s the scrappy start, the moment he discovers his musical gift, the boy meets girl bit, the triumphs, the adversity, and, of course, the tunes – but Clint Dyer’s production delivers it with such verve and panache that it stands out from the crowd.”
Time Out: *** “aside from a sound quality (and volume!) that most scrappy tribute bands could only dream of, Kene’s performance is genuinely towering stuff, a febrile mix of messianic charisma and puppyish charm that feels like it should be able to solve armed conflicts.”
The Times: *** “the flaws in this celebration of Jamaica’s greatest musical export may not prove fatal. As someone who grew up on Bob Marley’s music, I want this show to succeed. And in the Nigerian-born Arinzé Kene, it gives us a shaman-cum-entertainer who is blessed with a soulful voice (no matter that he’s much more bulked-up than the bird-like leader of the Wailers).”
The Daily Mail: *** “But, much as I love Marley and his music, this version, written by Lee Hall (best known for the Billy Elliot and Rocketman screenplays) left me slightly cold and faintly baffled.”
Musical Theatre Review: **** “Creatively, this show has impressive credentials as it was fashioned by those that knew Marley best – his daughter, reggae artist Cedella Marley and from his Island Records label days, Suzette Newman and Chris Blackwell (book by award-winning writer Lee Hall). Of course, despite its impeccable pedigree, director Clint Dyer’s production could still have turned out to be just a Jamaican-themed, reggae-rooted jukebox musical but even if the early dour looking sets don’t exactly shout exotic Caribbean sunsets, it’s the cast’s evident passion and respect for Marley – the man and the artist – that ultimately wins the day. Okay, the narrative is a bit clunky, lines delivered nervously and some storylines lack conviction, but when the songs kick in, all that becomes a minor issue – after all, how can you not revel in hearing classics like ‘Could You Be Loved,’ ‘Stir It Up’ and ‘Jamming’?”
iNews: **** “Of the pumping company numbers, “Exodus” is a highlight, Shelley Maxwell’s jagged yet sinuous choreography electrifying. And Kene is mesmerising: witty, magnetic, with vocals that pay homage to Marley’s own while remaining shatteringly heartfelt.”
Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical continues to play at the Lyric Theatre. To book tickets click here or visit: From the Box Office, Love Theatre.com, Theatre Tickets Direct.co.uk, London Theatre Direct or Last Minute.com.