INTERVIEW: London-based actor and singer Michael Duke answers our questions about playing Bob Marley in the Olivier… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…—
The Prickle (@ThePrickle) September 22, 2022
London-based actor and singer Michael Duke answers our questions about playing Bob Marley in the Olivier Award-winning musical Get Up, Stand Up! at the Lyric Theatre in London’s West End.
– You are playing Bob Marley… how does it feel to be stepping out on stage and playing this role, live on stage, to a London audience?
It feels great. I think that there’s something quite specific about it being a London audience. I mean, in this country, anyway, there’s a massive Caribbean culture, and it feels – I feel a great honour to be able to represent it. A lot of people who come to see the show, as well, yes, they know Bob Marley’s music, but not necessarily the culture and history and everything surrounding it, so again, for me it’s an honour to tell these stories and educate people, as well. It’s great.
– How do audiences for Get Up, Stand Up! compare to other audiences you’ve performed to?
Completely different. In our theatre the sound is incredibly loud, which you’re not going to get in many theatre productions. There’s a lot of bass, and the audience seem to engage with the piece a lot more vocally, which I think can be great, to an extent, because it’s very Caribbean, and I love that.
– Bob Marley died in 1981, over forty years ago now. Why this story, and why now?
I think this story could have been told ten years ago, and it could be told in ten years time, because I don’t think that the story or the culture has been celebrated nearly enough as it should be. For an audience nowadays, what we read in the news and what we see at the moment reflects a lot of the things that happened back then. As long as these themes and these issues still exist, the show will always be relevant.
– Some people seem to have some kind of snobbery about so-called “jukebox” musicals. What’s your take?
When the story is great, I love them. Because I think for a show like ours, you could take away the songs and it would still be a great story. But then you add the songs back in and it becomes even better.
– Has anything surprised you about performing this role? And do audiences come away surprised by anything?
People only really know Bob Marley’s music, and his individuality is possibly overshadowed by the Rastafarian image. But, like everyone else, he was a person, and so in Get Up, Stand Up!, you get a sense of his human nature.
Playing at the Lyric Theatre until 8 January 2023.