The spirit of Bob Marley is alive and well, and jammin’, mon, as part of an adorable tropical mix at Adventure Theatre MTC.
The excellent casting is helmed by crowd pleaser Jobari Parker-Namdar. As Ziggy, he spouts mournful expressions of woe as he stays inside, glued to his television set, worrying about the bad things that can happen including tropical storms, getting lost, and missing the latest weather report.
Parker is a singing and dancing wonder, sporting a Jamaican colored tee-shirt and a head of luscious dreadlocks. Still, there’s no end to the potentially scary stuff that can happen as his Mom (played with ebullient joy by Ayanna Hardy) acknowledges, but he shouldn’t let fear stop him from enjoying life to the fullest, she reminds him, and nudges him out to play like a Mom bird pushing her little reluctant chick out of the nest.
And that’s a perfect metaphor since his best friends are three birds, led by David Little as the wise and spirited Doctor Bird, who all sing and dance and shake their tail feathers with glee.
S. Lewis Feemster is the spooky and wanna-be scary Duppy, kind of like a dancing fun-filled boogey man with a fetish for other people’s hair. And Brittany N. Williams portrays the fascinating character Nansi–it took awhile for me to realize that her character is a sweet girly version of the notorious trickster in folk tales. Just wait until she pulls out a giant depiction of her namesake that looks like it will easily crawl all over your arm. She is an explosive bundle of energy, with big wide innocent eyes that will suck you into her latest trick every time, no matter how much, like Ziggy, you are determined to resist. But, resistance is futile with that one, as you ride out each fun adventure and escapade.
Nick Olcott directs with high octane fun in all the right places, including a passage about wearing red underwear to ward off bad spirits, turning a potentially scary moment into raucous hilarity.
The show has a Wow factor with abundantly bright colors that hit you from the first entrance into the theater, set design by Jos B. Musumeci. Characters jump, scurry and scoot around the multilayered platforms along the perimeter of the brightly colored backdrop of houses, trees, lush foliage, and a big brightly smiley faced-sun, who ends up being as expressive as any other character. Lighting design by Brian S. Allard sets the tone and mood, from bright and cheery to lonesome and scary when the kids find themselves alone in an unfamiliar part of town and in potential danger. At that moment, clouds seem to pass over the merry bunch, reflecting Ziggy’s inner fear and trembling, then everything brightens as he gets stronger and self-assured.
Filled with powerful messages without resorting to maudlin sentimentality, Three Little Birds shows a youngster facing his deepest fears –who hasn’t feared that? But with friends and loving support (and terrific music, led by music director Darius Smith), he discovers strengths that he didn’t even know he had– again, timeless life lessons applicable to all.
Three Little Birds
Closes April 14, 2013
Adventure Theatre MTC
7300 MacArthur Blvd
Glen Echo Park, Glen Echo, MD
1 hour without intermission
Ages 4 and up
Tuesdays thru Sundays
Then of course, there’s the head bobbing music of Bob Marley with the comforting heart-beating rhythm and smile inducing messages.
Producing Artistic Director Michael Bobbitt who wrote the script and his long time collaborator John L. Cornelius II, handled the arrangements and orchestration were joined by a host of other designers and coaches to create this delicious island cocktail of a show. Together, they channeled the spirit of Bob Marley via the book by his daughter Cedella Marley for this delightful World Premiere Reggae Children’s Musical.
One Love, One Heart, indeed.
for ages 4 and up
Three Little Birds . Based on the story by Cedella Marley. Music & Lyrics by Bob Marley . Adapted for the stage by Michael J. Bobbitt . Additional music and lyrics and orchestrations by John L. Cornelius, II . Directed by Nick Olcott . Music director: Darius Smith. Featuring Jobari Parker-Namdar, S. Lewis Feemster, David John Little, Brittany N. Williams, Ayanna Hardy and Ashleigh King. Assistant director: Adi Stein, Choreographer: Michael J. Bobbitt, Dramaturg: Sybil Roberts, Dialect Coaches: Kim James Bey,and Jennifer Mendenhall, Set Designer: Joe Musumeci, Costume Designer: Kendra Rai, Properties Designer: Andrea “Dre” Moore, Lighting Designer: Brian Allard, Sound Designer: Neil McFadden, Stage Manager: Will Richardson. Produced by Adventure Theatre MTC . Reviewed by Debbie Minter Jackson