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Arinze Kene to star in new musical Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Story

Bob Marley. Credit Fifty-Six Hope Road Music Ltd. Adrian Boot.

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FOLLOWING a hugely successful workshop in 2019, producers Playful Productions, Stage Play and Trim the Wind have announced that Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Story will begin previews at the newly refurbished Lyric Theatre on Saturday, February 6, 2021.

This definitive new musical features Bob Marley’s iconic hits played live on stage. They include No Woman No Cry, Exodus, 3 Little Birds, Get Up Stand Up and many more.

And Lee Hall’s book takes direct inspiration from Marley’s visionary lyrics to tell his extraordinary personal story as an artist.

The production will be directed by Dominic Cooke (Follies, Clybourne Park) and star Arinzé Kene (Misty, Girl from the North Country).

Cedella Marley (Bob Marley’s daughter) said: “Our father’s music means so much to so many people around the world, we’re beyond thrilled to be able to bring it to both fans and new audiences alike in a new way led by the stellar team of Lee Hall and Dominic Cooke, and starring the fantastic Arinzé. As a family we feel that our father would be proud to know that his legacy is a source of creative inspiration and continues to bring people together.”

Arinzé Kene said: “I feel absolutely honoured to be able to take on this role. It is not only an honour to be able to spread Bob Marley’s message further, but to get to be him for a little while is a lifelong dream come true. I grew up on his music and his mantra and he has been one of my role models since I was a child. I feel as if he’s in my DNA. He’s the man, I love him.”

Bob Marley, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, is notable not only as the man who put reggae on the global map, but, as a statesman in his native Jamaica, he famously brought together the country’s warring factions. Today, Bob Marley remains one of the 20th century’s most important and influential entertainment icons. Marley’s lifestyle and music continue to inspire new generations as his legacy lives on through his music.

In the digital era, he has the second-highest social media following of any posthumous celebrity, with the official Bob Marley Facebook page drawing more than 71 million fans, ranking it among the Top 20 of all Facebook pages and Top 10 among celebrity pages. Marley’s music catalogue has sold millions of albums worldwide. His iconic collection Legend holds the distinction of being the longest-charting album in the history of Billboard magazine’s Catalogue Albums chart and remains the world’s best-selling reggae album.

Marley’s accolades include inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1994) and ASCAP Songwriters Hall of Fame (2010), a GRAMMY® Lifetime Achievement Award (2001), multiple entries in the GRAMMY® Hall Of Fame, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (2001).

Arinzé Kene is a writer and performer whose most recent one man play, Misty, ran at the Bush Theatre to widespread critical acclaim and transferred to the West End. For this show he was nominated for two Olivier awards – Best Actor and Best New Play.

Other recent stage roles include playing soul singing legend Sam Cooke in One Night in Miami at the Donmar Warehouse and The Old Vic Theatre’s production based on the music of Bob Dylan – Girl from the North Country which transferred to the West End for an extended run. He has just been seen playing to sold out audiences and 5-star reviews in the exceptional production of Death of a Salesman at the Young Vic Theatre.

Lee Hall is an award-winning British playwright and screenwriter. He wrote the book and lyrics for Billy Elliot The Musical which ran for over a decade in the West End, receiving the Olivier Award for Best New Musical and ten Tonys for the Broadway production, amongst others. The successful musical has subsequently toured the globe, with productions around the world.

Hall’s theatre credits include The Pitmen Painters, Cooking with Elvis and the stage adaptations of Shakespeare in Love in the West End, and Network starring Bryan Cranston at the National Theatre in London and on Broadway. He wrote the screenplay for Rocketman, the musical film based on the life of Sir Elton John. Forthcoming projects include a collaboration with Sir Paul McCartney on the musical production of It’s A Wonderful Life.

Dominic Cooke is a highly accomplished theatre, film, and television director based in London. From 2007 to 2013, he was Artistic Director of the Royal Court Theatre, where he directed Bruce Norris’ Clybourne Park, for which he was nominated as Best Director at the Evening Standard Awards. He won the 2018 Critic’s Circle Best Director Award for his National Theatre production of Follies starring Imelda Staunton. The show was also nominated for ten Olivier Awards, winning two, including Best Musical Revival and returned for a second run in 2019. His previous production, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, also at the National Theatre, won an Olivier Award for Best Revival.

Tickets will go on sale on April 21, 2020 and there is a website (GetUpStandUpTheMusical.com) where people can sign up for priority booking.

Image: Bob Marley. Credit: Fifty-Six Hope Road Music Ltd. Adrian Boot.