Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Raleigh/Durham

Bob Marley's Three Little Birds
Raleigh Little Theatre
Review by Garrett Southerland

Also see Garrett's review of Life of Galileo

The Cast
Photo by Jeannine Borzello
"Don't worry about a thing, 'cause every little thing gonna be alright." This lyric from one of the best known songs of the legendary Jamaican singer/songwriter Bob Marley serves as a key theme for a children's book written by his daughter Cedella Marley, and that theme carries through in the stage musical adaptation by Michael J. Bobbitt. Bob Marley's Three Little Birds utilizes about a dozen songs from the Marley catalog, from "One Love" to "So Much Trouble in the World" to the title song. This joyous tale of love and adventure is delighting audiences in its current production by Raleigh Little Theatre in the Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre through March 24.

Unsurprisingly, the story takes place on the island of Jamaica and features a young boy named Ziggy (a delightful Jireh Ijeoma), who would rather stay inside and watch TV than explore the wonders of the island. He lives in fear of what ifs—hurricanes, mongoose attacks, and other scary things that might happen outside the safety of his home—so he prefers to spend his time with his closest friends, those three little birds: Tacooma (Joshua Johnson), Montego (Chanda Branch), and Doctor Bird (a terrific Benaiah Barnes). He is eventually persuaded to go outside by Nansi (a delightful Seanna Osborne), and his fears are put to the test when they encounter the dreaded Duppy, a malevolent spirit (performed brilliantly by JaJuan Cofield). But this is a child-friendly production, and before it is over, every little thing has turned out alright.

Under the direction of Deb Royals-Mizerk, the Gaddy-Goodwin has been transformed into a pocket of Jamaica, featuring imaginative scenic design by Jeannine Borzello, beautiful lighting by Ryann Norris, and above it all a four-piece band (under the attentive eye of music director Ronzel Bell). Costume design by Jeremy Clos provides the richest visual splendor, fully evoking this world of vibrant color and creative patterns. Natural artifacts and native craft from the Caribbean islands serve as inspiration for Mr. Clos's designs, especially the costumes of the three birds and Duppy, which are among the most striking to have graced a stage of Raleigh Little Theatre.

The play, which runs at about an hour, is a fitting fable for today's young people, many of whom might share Ziggy's preference for screens (whether they be TV, tablets or smartphones). But it clearly is also a love letter to Bob Marley's home. One memorable number introduces a number of other birds (again in magnificent costumes by Mr. Clos) to provide a brief history lesson of Jamaica and all the cultures from across the world that influenced its development. No matter how young or old you are, you will leave the theatre with a happy tune in your heart.

A sensory-friendly performance of this production will be given on Saturday, March 30, at 1:00 p.m., designed especially for individuals with autism spectrum disorders, sensory sensitivities, or other disabilities. On Saturday, March 16, local reggae band Jamrock will give an even grander taste of the island's music, performing from 2:30-4:00 p.m. in the Gaddy-Goodwin Theatre lobby.

Bob Marley's Three Little Birds, through March 24, 2019, at Raleigh Little Theatre, Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre, 301 Pogue St., Raleigh NC. Tickets can be purchased online at or by phone at 919-821-3111.

Based on a story by Cedella Marley
Music and Lyrics: Bob Marley
Adapted for the Stage by: Michael J. Bobbitt
Arrangements, Orchestrations, Additional Music and Lyrics: John L. Cornelius, II
Direction: Deb Royals-Mizerk
Musical Direction: Ronzel Bell
Choreography: Chanda Branch, Aya Wallace
Costume Design: Jeremy Clos
Scenic Design: Jeannine Borzello
Lighting Design: Ryann Norris
Sound Design: John Maruca

Ziggy: Jireh Ijeoma
Nansi: Seanna Osborne
Duppy: JaJuan Cofield
Doctor Bird: Benaiah Barnes
Cedella, Great Aunt African Bird: India Williams
Tacooma: Joshua Johnson
Montego: Chanda Branch, Aya Wallace
Spanish Conquistador Bird: Verlene Oates
Sister Indian Bird: Salima Thomas
Great Grandfather Spanish Bird, Mango Man: Darius M. Hooks
Great Grandmother British Bird: Maria L. Barber
British Colonizer Bird: Noah Guilford
Cousin Chinese Bird: Hadley Ayers
British Colonizer Bird #2, Villager: Alyssa Wise
Spanish Conquistador Bird #2, Villager: Kyla Guilford
Villagers: Leah Guilford, Rayne D. Hooks