“Don't worry about a thing 'cause every little thing is gonna be alright.”
So go the lyrics to Bob Marley and The Wailer’s 1977 hit song.
Now, the feel-good sentiment has become a musical based on a children’s book written by Marley's daughter, Cedella Marley, titled "Every Little Thing."
City Theatre and the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts are presenting "Bob Marley's Three Little Birds," a musical featuring the music and lyrics of Bob Marley, based on Cedella Marley’s book. It runs Wednesday, June 22 to Saturday, July 9 in the Carnival Studio Theater at the Arsht Center.
"This musical has been on our radar a long time," says City Theatre's Artistic Director Margaret Ledford. "The show has a great message about facing our fears and is the perfect post-quarantine show for bringing people back together."
Cedella says she was inspired to write a children’s book based on her father’s song recalling that it was always a family favorite in her own home.
"The book came about because I saw the impact of the song on my own kids, the way it would calm them and empower them," she says.
Cedella Marley is one of twelve children fathered by Bob Marley and his first born with Rita Marley. Currently, she is the acting director of the Bob Marley Foundation, and the CEO of her father's recording label, Tuff Gong International, both based in Kingston, Jamaica.
The play originated in 2013 in Washington, D.C. Playwright Michael J. Bobbitt heard about the book, read it, and was taken by it. Bobbitt was the artistic director at the time of Adventure Theatre MTC, a musical theater academy for youth in D.C. In 2014, "Three Little Birds" had its Off-Broadway premiere at the New Victory Theater.
The Miami production is directed by Gladys Ramirez, the general manager of City Theatre. Musical director is Jaime Hinckson. Hinckson has a connection to the Marley's, too. He is musician Julian Marley's keyboardist and musical director.
"We're privileged to have Jaimie Hinckson onstage," says Ramirez. "He has so much talent and experience and brings so much authenticity to the music. The show is 60 minutes of fast and furious. (It) spotlights Jamaican culture, folklore, history and of course, the music." Hinckson is joined by a live reggae band that provides the music.
The story is set in Jamaica and is about an 11-year-old boy named Ziggy. "Three Little Birds" centers around Ziggy, who is afraid to leave his house because of tropical storms, evil spirits, and other menaces. Through a series of adventures, he’s reminded that "every little thing's gonna be alright." It’s a children’s story with family appeal, Ramirez says.
For Cedella Marley, the book and play aren't just about keeping her father's music alive, but as a means to live and work in a way that honors and reflects the truth of who the Marley family is.
"Of course, my father is the root of that," says Cedella. "It just so happens that my father spoke through his music, so his voice and his music are one and the same. It's his living word," she says. "It’s amazing to see the way that fans of Bob Marley have passed their love of his music along to their children, grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren," she says.
She credits this to her father's music being not only universal, but ageless, and timeless. "The same things my dad sang about all those years ago are continuing to happen, so his lyrics are still relevant to the times we now live in now," says Cedella.
Her expectation for the musical is to spread joy and positivity and send a message of hope.
"Seeing this story come to life onstage illustrated by my father's music gives it an added dimension," she says. "Its positive, uplifting vibe is something the world needs more of these days. With so much trouble in the world right now, sometimes we need to just get into a space of hope and love."
And we just had to ask Cedella if she had to choose what would be her favorite Bob Marley song?
She confides that her father's "Nice Time" written in 1967 has to be it — that was her father’s nickname for her.
City Theatre's "Three Little Birds" opens Wednesday, June 22 at 7:30 p.m. and runs through Saturday, July 9 at the Carnival Studio Theatre inside the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Tickets: $30 general admission; $20 (children up to 12). Call the Adrienne Arsht Center box office at (305) 949-6722, or online at arshtcenter.org.