A day after rehearsals began for Kwame Kwei-Armah's "Marley," a musical based on the life of reggae legend Bob Marley, Center Stage publicly announced the performer who will play the musician: Mitchell Brunings, who first grabbed the attention of Marley fans back in 2013 on Holland's version of "The Voice" singing Marley's 'Redemption Song.'
This clip convinced Kwei-Armah to head to Holland and meet the vocalist, who has been touring and singing Marley songs over the past few years.
"His soulful, gorgeous voice and deep respect for Bob's music and life make him the perfect fit for the production," Kwei-Armah said in a press release put out earlier today. The performance, filmed in 2013, has more than 35 million views on YouTube.
Watching Brunings' version of 'Redemption Song,' there's no doubt that he sounds like Marley, which is nice, but the key here seems to be that he doesn't bend over backward to copy Marley's delivery, which is important. Marley's charisma was eerily insular and all the more captivating because of it. The problem with so many musical biopics and biomusicals is they attempt to get someone who is just a good mimic and lacks the other ineffable qualities that are necessary for a performance like this one to work on the stage. And watching Brunings' performance, there's something subtler and gentler going on. "Marley" opens at Center Stage on May 6. Watch Brunings' performance of 'Redemption Song' below: