Get Up Stand Up at The Lyric Theatre

Get Up Stand Up is a musical which follows the life of Bob Marley, from his formative years being sent to live with his fathers family through to his death from cancer aged 36. It not only packs in many of his biggest songs but also takes a look at both the highs and lows of his life, with no sugar coating.

As Bob Marley’s life was a varied one this made the story itself a really interesting one to follow. It was not only fascinating to learn about how his music was made but also more about his personal life, including his relationship with his wife, Rita Marley as well as Cindy Breakspeare. However understandably the shows focus is Marley’s music and in an effort to get as many of his hits in as possible there are elements of his life that were possibly under explored. There are brief mentions as to his Rastafarian beliefs and him developing these but again there was little time dedicated to this or what it meant to Marley. I would have loved to have known more about Marley’s politics and reasons for exile to London. The show is staged imaginatively. With frequent moments of the show depicting Marley looking back on a younger version of himself.

28 of Marley’s hits were in the show. A lot of them were sung in context of Bob Marley performing or recording them but there were others that were used to further story. An example of this was Rita Marley delivering ‘No Woman No Cry’ during a particularly tumultuous point in their relationship which left the audience applauding mid song.

The cast were incredibly strong across the board. Michael Duke played Bob Marley. His voice delivers the iconic songs brilliantly and he manages to flit between charismatic front man on stage to being at a loss with his own wife in the blink of an eye.

One character trait that the show does develop was Marley’s attitude towards women in his life. In order for this to work you need two incredible performers to play Rita and Cindy. Gabrielle Brooks plays Rita Marley and she won the audience over with her clear love for Marley as well as her incredible rendition of the aforementioned ‘No Woman No Cry.’ The other woman in Marley’s life featuring in Get Up Stand Up was Cindy Breakspeare, Marley’s partner who he moved in and fathered a child with, whilst still married to Rita. In the performance I saw Cindy was played by Kimmy Edwards in the performance I saw. Her number ‘Waiting In Vain’ left the audience in no doubt as to how much hurt Marley caused the women around him.

The set design by Chole Lamford was full of well utilised levels with the show opening with what simply looks like a wall of speakers. This was further enhanced by a lighting design by Charles Balfour which was very much in a gig style, complimenting the style of the show.

I went as someone who was vaguely familiar with some of his music but knowing very little about Bob Marley himself. I found that this musical was a great way to discover more about the man and his music so if you don’t know much about Bob Marley don’t let this put you off booking to see Get Up And Stand Up. Whilst I would have loved there to be more backstory the music itself is worth seeing the show and the performances by the cast of these iconic songs more than do them justice.

To find out more about Get Up Stand Up you can visit their website here.

If you like this show you might also like my review of Six, Come From Away and Hamilton.

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