Children’s Play for All Ages: Based on Bob Marley Music

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marleyBy Mike Tucker

It was a treat to take my kids, ages 7 and 8 years old, to a marvel of sight and sound that would be the world premier of the musical “Three Little Birds” at Adventure Theatre, located at Glen Echo Park in Maryland. The play is based on a children story by Cedella Marley infused with the music and lyrics of her dad, Bob Marley.

As the invite came the only prerequisite I needed from the kids was an open mind and each of them to read aloud to me Cedella’s very short but sweet story of melodies pure and true, “Three Little Birds.” Their daddy’s utter disdain for musicals has begun to convert my kids. “But daddy, it’s a musical.” This was different. This was one of daddy’s favorite artists of all time, so I knew we couldn’t lose.

The play ended up being a hit. At this performance we were lucky enough to meet Cedella Marley and her family who were viewing the play for the first time and loved it as well.

Visiting Glen Echo is always an adventure back in time, albeit before my time as the amusement park closed in 1968. Since 1970 it has been run by the National Park Service, but haskept its nostalgic feel from the original park’s sign to the rustic bridge leading into the park up to the old time carousel that is it’s everlasting centerpiece.

Glen Echo Park was white-only for 63 years until some students from Howard University held a sit-in on the carousel leading to 11 weeks of picketing and eventually to the park’s integration in 1961.

Things have come a long was as I sat in the front row of the Glen Echo theater with my children at play with an all black cast, based on a book written by a black woman, put on stage by a black man to the backsplash of Reggae music.

Michael J. Bobbitt, Artistic Director of Adventure Theatre, and his staff did a great job with the actors and an even better job with the music and feel of the Caribbean island of Jamaica.

Just as the book pops with luscious color so does the stage adaptation. Everything was vibrant as the music that accompanied it, from the set design to the actor’s accents. It was a ray on sunshine on stage and although there was the backdrop of a huge sun on stage it was the play itself that provided the warmth.

The story is about a shy kid named Ziggy, played by Jobari Parker-Namdar, who watches too much TV until one day he finds himself on an adventure with his friend Nansi, Ayanna Hardy, being followed by an evil spirit called the Duppy, brought to life wonderfully by S. Lewis Feemster.

My kids laughed at the banter between childhood sweethearts Ziggy and Nansi but were hiding their eyes and trying to warn the actors when the Duppy was lurking. There was never a dull moment for the kids.

My favorite part was the ingenious use of one of my personal favorite Bob Marley songs “Running Away” which was dropped in the middle of a chase scene that had the Duppy hot on the tails of our main characters running away.

My kids loved the experience and the songs. The performance is for audiences 4 years and beyond. The play runs until April 14, 2013 check www.adventuretheatre-mtc.org for more information, schedule and to purchase tickets.

The next performance coming to Adventure Theatre is “Big Nate” based on the comic strip and books by Lincoln Pierce which will feature two cast mates from “Three Little Birds,” Ayanna Hardy (Nancy) and David John Little who plays Doctor Bird.

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