Review: Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical (Lyric Theatre, West End)

Posted on 13 November 2021

With Bob and the Wailers blasting in my Marley headphones I make my way down to the Lyric Theatre for my latest outing to the West End. Entering the foyer into my stalls seat, the set is a sight to behold, booming speakers and flashes of light matching the tone of the music are a plenty.

This is the closest I am ever going to get to seeing Bob Marley in all his glory. Scratch that. Arinze Kene IS Bob Marley, or at the very least, Bob Marley reincarnated. Every nuance of what is known about Bob has been replicated. The accent, his infamous dreadlocks and of course, the music.

Jukebox musicals’ success is mainly down to the narrative.  We are all familiar with the melody and lyrics but it is how the story is told.  This is not a new story – boy meets girl, falls in love, makes music and becomes infamous.  However, what is salient about Bob’s story is that despite arriving in Britain in the 1970s to spread the word, the same political undercurrent perhaps flows today.

To balance out the serious tone there are laughs galore; a particular scene of note is when Bob creeps through his future wife’s (Rita) window and she warns him about her aunt.  I won't spoil the line but suffice to say the audience was rolling in the aisles. Gabrielle Brooks in the role of Rita Marley had audible gasps and requests for an encore in her version of ‘No Woman, No Cry’.  I do hope that a cast recording will be released if only for this song alone! Shanay Holmes in the role of Cindy, one of Bob’s many mistresses, has a moving moment telling him he is addicted to falling in love with such emotion that it was hard to swallow the lump in my throat.  At times there are multiple Marleys on stage, elder ones reminiscing with younger ones and it was joyful to watch the kaleidoscope of love.

As Bob rightly says, ‘I am what I am’. And long may that truth be told.

Tickets for Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley musical at the West End's Lyric Theatre are now booking until 17 September 2022.

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Kay Johal

By Kay Johal

Kay particularly enjoys musicals and has a passion for writing.