Best Musical That's Probably Going to be on Broadway: 'Marley' by Kwame Kwei-Armah

Kwame Kwei-Armah's “Marley,” a bio musical in the mode of off-Broadway-turned-Broadway-smash “Fela!”, was clearly bigger than Baltimore from the start and it was thanks to Kwei-Armah's uncompromising demand that it debut here that the city got to this musical whose Broadway debut seems imminent, first. It’s a fascinating and ambitious play which tells the slightly fractured story of Bob Marley's life from an assassination attempt to his exile in London to a return. It races through complex Jamaican politics, indulges some kitchen-sink realism, and still contained all those hit Bob songs. Weighing it against other “local” plays seems unfair to the specificity of Baltimore theater and doesn't exactly do this successful piece of pop theater justice. And given Center Stage's impressive acknowledgement of the Baltimore Uprising, via a protest-nodding introductory scene and by way of a live performance at Penn and North, we can rest assured that wherever the play goes from here, it won't have quite the same potency as it did at Center Stage.

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