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‘We just want to blow the doors off’: The Bob Marley musical is finally coming to the West End

Director Clint Dyer gives the lowdown on ‘Get Up, Stand Up!’, which comes to London in May

Andrzej Lukowski
Written by
Andrzej Lukowski
Tickets go on sale today (December 1) for long-time-coming Bob Marley musical ‘Get Up, Stand Up’, which hits the West End next May. Fresh from reopening the National Theatre with ‘Death of England: Delroy’, show director Clint Dyer fills us in on the first blockbuster of the post-Covid era.

Why’s it taken so long for a Bob Marley musical to come together?
‘They’ve been trying to get it off the ground for a long time. I suppose because Marley’s music is so precious there’s a desire to get it right: it’s such a prize piece of material that it’s been tricky to feel wholeheartedly sure about the timing. It’s very precious.’

What’s the story you’re trying to tell?
‘There’s so much to talk about: the deep political philosophy behind his music and the way he lived his life. I think what
we’re trying to do is to use the music to try and harness his ideas and beliefs, not just the story.’

Actor/playwright Arinzé Kene is your Bob Marley – why is he the man for the job?
‘I’ve known him for years: he’s perfect for it. Over the years he’s proven it in what he writes about, his understanding of
Black culture, urban culture, and you could just go straight to the fact he sings like a bird.’

It’s an immense back catalogue – will there be deep cuts as well as the hits?
‘There’s so many popular songs I’m sure we’ll never get all of them in – but I think we’ll leave people really happy.’

It’s being marketed as an uplifting remedy to the horror of 2020 – is that how you see it?
‘Well, there’s never anything un-positive about the emancipation of Black people is there? It’s inherently positive!’

You directed ‘Death of England: Delroy’, the show that reopened the National Theatre, but had to close on opening night due to Lockdown 2 – has it been a tough year?
‘It’s been a nightmare, an absolute nightmare, but you try your best and I think making art there’s a level of expecting disasters and knowing that you to work with them to your benefit. We’ll all have a few scars left, it was a very trying time, but yeah we seem to have made something that people like.’

Is it exciting bringing reggae to the West End?
‘I think I’ve been handed the most incredible opportunity and I kind of want to blow the doors off, really. To have some full-on reggae with HUMONGOUS BASS I find absolutely thrilling. Believe me, I’ve got some moves that I know will be a first for the West End.’

‘Get Up, Stand Up!’ is at the Lyric Theatre from May 28 2021. Tickets available here.

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