World Premiere of New Musical Marley Begins Tonight | Playbill

News World Premiere of New Musical Marley Begins Tonight Performances begin May 8 for the world-premiere production of the musical biography Marley at Center Stage, the State Theater of Maryland. International singing sensation Mitchell Brunings stars in the title role of the late reggae star Bob Marley.

Kwame Kwei-Armah
Kwame Kwei-Armah

With a book and direction by Center Stage artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah, Marley continues through June 14, the final production of Center Stage's 2014-15 season.

Joining Brunings are Saycon Sengbloh as Rita Marley, Mykal Kilgore as Stevie Wonder, Crystal Joy as backup singer Judy Mowatt, Ano Okera as filmmaker Don Letts, Khetanya Henderson as Diane Jobson, Michael Luwoye as Peter Tosh, Jaime Lincoln Smith as Neville Garrick, Susan Kelechi Watson as backup singer Marcia Griffiths, John Patrick Hayden as Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, Luke Forbes as Tek Life, Don Guillory as Don Taylor, Howard W. Overshown as Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley, David Heron as Tony Welsh, John-Andrew Morrison as Claudie Massop and Shayne Powell as Malakai.

Other members of the company include Kena Anae (Carly Barrett), Jonathan Hooks (Family Man), Michael Rogers (Rasta Elder), Damian Thompson (Bunny Wailer) and Michaela Waters (Cindy Breakspeare). Baltimore-area ensemble members include Christopher Dews, Tracey Farrar, Gary-Kayi Fletcher, Victoria Harper, Bill Hurlbut, Kyle Jackson, Jeff Kirkman III, Mawk, Allison McLean, Marili Mejias and Olu Butterfly Woods.

The creative team also includes Jason Webb (music director), Kenny Seymour (music supervisor), Germaul Barnes (choreographer), Neil Patel (scenic designer), ESOSA (costume designer), Michelle Habeck (lighting designer), Shane Rettig (sound designer), Alex Koch (projections), Oskar Eustis (dramaturg), Gavin Witt (dramaturg). Stage managers for the production are Lloyd Davis Jr. and Gwen Gilliam.

Suzette Newman and Chris Blackwell for Stageplay, Ltd., are producers, with Jessica R. Jenen serving as general manager. Through an agreement with Blue Mountain Music and Tuff Gong Pictures, Marley features music composed by Marley—including, among others, songs from "Exodus," "Kaya" and "Rastaman Vibration," which were written during the period in which the production is set.

Marley, according to press notes, "explores a pivotal period in the singer’s life. In 1976, Bob Marley finds himself the target of an assassination attempt. Shaken by this act of violence in the country he loves, Marley leaves for London where he spends nearly two years in self-imposed exile. Chronicling the events surrounding this earth-shaking moment, Marley tells the story of a man transformed into one of the 20th Century’s greatest musical icons."

“I came to truly appreciate Bob Marley during my own period of transformation as an artist,” Kwei-Armah said in an earlier statement. “Writing this piece is my way of paying tribute to all that I’ve learned from Marley over the years, and it is very humbling to have the opportunity to bring his story to the stage…For this piece, I wanted to collaborate with the very best minds. Having Oskar on board will give me the best chance a writer can have at fulfilling the potential of this piece.”

Marley is a creative collaboration with the Public Theater, with Oskar Eustis serving as one of the production dramaturgs.



Born in the South American country of Surinam, Brunings came in second place on the Dutch TV show "The Voice of Holland" last fall, singing Marley's "Redemption Song." See his performance here:

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