Reggae icon Bob Marley is serving as inspiration for a new children’s musical that is bringing his universal message of love, fear and everything in between to the stage from mid January to mid February.
For those who don’t know much about the late Jamaican reggae crooner, it may be surprising to see a children’s musical inspired by his message.
In American pop culture, Marley may be more closely connected to images of weed-smoking Rastas, but throughout his life he always had an uplifting message to share—one of universal love, the value of hope, the realities of fear and how to deal with the entire spectrum of human emotions.
That is what will serve as the foundation for the new children’s musical “Three Little Birds, A New Reggae Children’s Musical.”
The production will be based on a story written by Marley’s own daughter, Cedella Marley.
Michael J. Bobbitt adapted the story for the stage.
The musical will follow the story of a young boy named Ziggy who is tricked into leaving his “safe place” by his best friend Nansi.
Nansi’s goal is to show her friend everything he has been missing out on by being too afraid to leave his safe place.
In the midst of this journey, the musical also touches on issues of race—although director Michael Mohammed said it certainly isn’t the focal point of the show.
“It’s not part of the immediate story because everyone is a person of color in the West Indies,” he said, according to Mercury News.
The true focus was bringing to life “the idea of one spirit connecting everyone and sharing hope that there’s a big world filled with adventure for everyone.”
It’s a message that Mohammed said has a special connection to his childhood.
“Since my mother is Jamaican, Marley was like an ambassador, an icon,” he added. “I grew up listening to his music as a part of our household.”
Other issues that are addressed in the musical are more complex than what people are used to seeing for such a young audience, but Mohammad and Marley weren’t willing to shy away from such important topics.
Instead, Marley’s book and the musical rendition simply bring complicated topics like poverty and inequality into a simpler context for children to understand.
“They’re not ‘dumbed down’ or reduced,” Mohammed explained. “They’re chosen for messages like breaking out from fears. ‘One Love’ is the centerpiece. It’s the touchstone because we keep going back to the meeting of different people and ideas.”
For those who want to catch the Bob Marley-inspired musical with a message, the California premiere will kick off on January 24 at Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, California.
The show, which is presented by Bay Area Children’s Theatre, will run through February 15 with weekend showings between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
More information on the play is available at the Bay Area Children’s Theatre’s official website.