Arinzé Kene in ‘Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical’ (Photo: Craig Sugden)
Bob Marley, the iconic Jamaican singer and songwriter, is given the jukebox musical in the new West End musical Get Up, Stand Up!. The show stars Arinzé Kene, who has won acclaim for his vocal performance and reflection of Marley’s mannerisms and charisma. Lee Hall provides the book for Clint Dyer’s production, now playing at London’s Lyric Theatre.
The reviews for this biomusical, which opened on October 20, feel reminiscent of those for Tina: The Tina Turner Musical and other recent jukebox works — weak story, strong leading performance. Time Out London gave the production three out of five stars; critic Andrzej Lukowski wrote, “‘Get Up, Stand Up!’ has wonderful tunes, a phenomenal star turn, and a weak story. For now, the first two points largely cancel out the third. But there is an awful lot resting on Arinzé Kene’s prodigious shoulders, and he’s not going to stay with the show forever. Catch the West End premiere punky reggae party while you can.”
The Guardian also gave the new musical three out of five stars. Writer Arifa Akbar said, “Character and dialogue are sacrificed but there is a central performance from Arinzé Kene that soars and tingles the spine. There is a powerful sense of spirit here and it is a tribute so infectious that it defies an audience not to sing or sway along.”
Jessie Thompson’s review was more praising; the Evening Standard gave the production four out of five stars. “As Bob would say, don’t worry – from the very first moment of this exuberant show, we know we’re in safe hands,” Thompson wrote.
Of all the outlets, The Telegraph gave a distinct rave — a five-star one. startling how much like Marley Arinzé Kene sounds when he sings. He is matched in charisma by Gabrielle Brooks’s Rita, Marley’s wife and pre-eminent member of female backing group the I-Three. She almost steals the show during their terrific duet on ‘No Woman, No Cry.’”
This review noted the effect such music can have on a crowd: “Having sat politely until the denouement on ‘Redemption Song,’ the audience spontaneously jumped to its feet to dance in the aisles. A rousing, absorbing two hours-plus of joyful theatre that reanimates Marley’s genius.”
Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical
Shaftesbury Avenue, London