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REVIEW: Delightful Children’s Hour in Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds (Children’s Theatre Company)

Lynnea Doublette, Ellis M. Dossavi Alipoeh, and Kory LaQuess Pullam in the Children’s Theatre Company production of Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds. Photo by Glen Stubbe Photography.

A bit of Jamaica is available at Children’s Theatre with its production of Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds.  The play is based on a book by Cedella Marley, the daughter of the famous reggae singer Bob Marley.  It was adapted for the stage by Michael J. Bobbitt and it is infused with the reggae music of Bob Marley.  Director Sha Cage brings together a talented ensemble to tell this children’s tale.

The story is focused on a 10-year-old boy named Ziggy (Ellis M. Dossavi Alipoeh).  About a year earlier, Ziggy was caught up in a hurricane and now lives in fear of another storm.  Ziggy’s mother Cedella (Lynnea Monique Doublette) worries about Ziggy’s fears and how they are limiting his life: he spends all day watching the weather channel, so he can know about the next storm.  Ziggy’s plight concerns all who care about him, including his friend Nansi (KateMarie Andrews), and Doctor Bird (Nathan Barlow), a bird that Ziggy rescued during the last hurricane.  Other characters include Tacoomah (Timotha Lanae), one of Doctor Bird’s companions, and the rather inept villain Duppy (Kory LaQuess Pullam).

Kory LaQuess Pullam in Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds. Photo by Glen Stubbe Photography.

All of the characters except Ziggy, double as the ensemble and weave in and out of the scenes.  With Nansi’s and Doctor Bird’s encouragement, Ziggy finally ventures out into the world – only to face both threatening weather and Duppy.  The villain Duppy, attracted by Ziggy’s hair, seeks to take over Ziggy’s body.  With the support of his friends, however, Ziggy overcomes his fears and defeats Duppy.  But the storyline is secondary to the Bob Marley’s marvelous songs, including “One Love”, “Jamming”, and “Is This Love”.

Alipoeh is spot on as Ziggy who, despite his fearful existence, is always willing to accept a compliment about his hair.  Andrews plays a playful but calculating Nansi who teases Ziggy to get him to come out of his house, but who is also looking to him for future husband material.  Barlow’s Dr. Bird creates an energetic and campy performance.  Doublette is a standout whenever she joins the ensemble, and joins with Barlow and Lanae to make up the titluar three little birds.  Pullam’s villain is more comical than frightening as the youthful audience joins in on the countdown that leads to his demise.

Timotha Lanae, Ellis M. Dossavi Alipoeh and KateMarie Andrews take the stage. Photo by Glen Stubbe.

Music director Sanford Moore, leading a five-person orchestra, succeeds in bringing the richness of Bob Marley’s music to another generation. Alanna Morris-Van Tassel’s choreography manifests in a fluid dance movement with the ensemble, creating energetic fun time whenever it is time for Marley’s songs.

Lawrence E. Moten III has provided bright bird-like colors to light up the multi-level stage.  Wu Chen Khoo’s lightening design especially shines with its creation of storm-like conditions to show young ones how frightening a storm can be.

The zestful cast and the legendary music of Marley make for a delightful children’s hour.

Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds closes this Sunday, March 1 at the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis.

Bev Wolfe