We’re Jammin’ at Bob Marley’s Three Birds At First Stage

And I hope you like jammin’, too!

The First Stage shows are always crazy fun and feature colorful sets and costuming and enthusiastic talented performers. And Three Little Birds is no different and this is maybe my favorite of the season…but that may be a personal bias…since I love Bob Marley’s music.

The focus of the story by Cedella Marley is a young Jamaican lad named Ziggy. And based on his limited life experience, Ziggy is nervous about the dangers he perceives to exist in the big real world outside his home…so he prefers to remain in his home and focus on the weather (one of his fears is hurricanes) and news on his TV. But his mother and friend, Nansi, eventually coax him out into Jamaica!

Cynthia Cobb and Julius Newman in Bob Marley’s THREE LITTLE BIRDS. courtesy of First Stage, 2023. Photo by Paul Ruffolo.

And unsurprisingly, Ziggy’s best friend is a bird…a very active and happy bird…Dr. Bird, incredibly brought to life on the stage by Ogunde Tremayne. What a treat to watch Dr. Bird aid Ziggy in breaking out of his fears and enter the world. And Tremayne really brings the character to life through his acting and singing and very fluid dancing. I found myself focusing on Dr. Bird rather than Ziggy whenever Tremayne came on stage.

Ogunde Tremayne and Reece Davis in Bob Marley’s THREE LITTLE BIRDS. courtesy of First Stage, 2023. Photo by Paul Ruffolo.

But despite the reassurances of Ziggy’s mother, Nansi, and Dr. Bird, there is one danger in Jamaica. A Duppy (a spirit from Jamaican folklore) who preys on young people to steal their hair to add to their own wig…believing that they needed new hair to maintain their strength and vigor. An activity that Duppy has been doing for centuries…and as everyone in the play states any number of times…Ziggy has beautiful perfect hair. And Duppy is stalking him but most frequently is frightened away by all of the activity that accompanies Ziggy and his friends. And Duppy is played by James Carrington, who gets just precisely right, the sly nature of Duppy and the humor written into the script around the Duppy and has just the right of sense of threat when he finally catches Ziggy lost and unaware. Another outstanding performance.

 James Carrington in Bob Marley’s THREE LITTLE BIRDS. courtesy of First Stage, 2023. Photo by Paul Ruffolo.

But Ziggy and Nansi defeat the Duppy through a clue from Ziggy’s mother and Ziggy’s twist on a trick that Nansi played on him earlier. It is a proper and rewarding comeuppance for Duppy and provides a liberation for Ziggy from his earlier dilemma and malaise.

And of course the story is supported and reinforced throughout by the delightful music of Bob Marley…as the cast sings and dances between the various story vignettes. One of the off stage heroes here is choreographer Sonya Thompson whose dance pieces bring the characters to the fore and move the story along…the choreography just adds to the joy in the music.

And a shout out to Costume Designer Kenann Quander who gave us the feel of Jamaica and colors and textures to please the eye…particularly for the three birds from the title and Duppy! And Director Samantha D. Montgomery utilized the thrust stage of the Todd Wehr Theater to maximum effect, moving the actors and set to the best advantage for her story and the engagement of the audience.

Ogunde Tremayne (front) and Maya O’Day-Biddle and Amirah Muhammad in Bob Marley’s THREE LITTLE BIRDS. courtesy of First Stage, 2023. Photo by Paul Ruffolo.

As always, First Stage features two casts to provide ample opportunities for their young acting corps. For Three Little Birds, the Jamaican Owls cast includes Reece Davis as Ziggy, Amirah Muhammad as Nansi, and Maya O’Day-Biddle as Tacoomah and the Jamaican Becard cast includes Julius Newman as Ziggy, Amira Harris as Nansi, and Zoe Chambers as Tacoomah. If you want to see who is on stage at any particular performance check the links below.

Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds continues at the Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Theater through May 21, 2023. Details and ticket info here: This show is recommended for families with children 3 and older…and has a run time about of 70 minutes that includes a short intermission.

Extra credit readings:

The Playbill with cast and First Stage information!

The Three Little Birds Social Story which explains theater, acting, and the experience at Todd Wehr. A great piece for first time theater goers. And the Enrichment Guide!

Amira Harris (front) and Julius Newman, Cynthia Cobb, and Zoe Chambers in Bob Marley’s THREE LITTLE BIRDS. courtesy of First Stage, 2023. Photo by Paul Ruffolo.

PSA: First Stage: 2023/2024 Season Announcement!

After scrolling through the offerings from First Stage for their 2023/2024 season, read all of the way to the end to see how to order tickets and take advantage of early bird savings! So here we go!

Kick off the new season with this world premiere play, based on the books by Green Bay Packer legend Donald Driver.

For adults, teens, and children ages 7-9 & 10-12

Based on the book by India Hill Brown, this ghostly tale examines the connection of past and present, friendship, and forgiveness.

For adults, teens & children ages 10-12

The Herdmans bring big laughs when these raucous siblings are cast in the town’s annual Christmas pageant. Chaos ensues, and the pageant seems doomed. Will they rise to the occasion and discover the true meaning of the season?

For adults, teens, and children ages 5-6, 7-9 & 10-12

Power, honor, and rebellion reign in this second of Shakespeare’s historical epic of royal succession. Presented by First Stage Young Company.

For adults & teens

Follow Percy Jackson’s quest to prevent a war between the Greek gods in this musical adaptation of the New York Times bestseller. Get ready for an action-packed, mythical adventure!.

For adults, teens, and children ages 7-9 & 10-12

Mo Willems’ cherished characters make the leap from page to stage in this rollicking musical adventure.

For adults, teens, and children ages 3-4, 5-6 & 7-9

Don’t be late for an adventure familiar to anyone who survived middle school with this hilarious and heartfelt musical, based on the popular book series.

For adults, teens, and children ages 5-6, 7-9 & 10-12

What happens when one man’s quest to do right is seemingly at odds with the best interests of his community? Can reason and science win out over rumor and fear? 

For adults & teens

Callaway Brown – an unlikely young hero – has been stranded on a desert island, and it’s up to YOU to decide what happens next! 

For adults, teens, and children ages 5-6, 7-9 & 10-12

To lock in the best seats now, choose just two or more plays to create your Family Package. The more plays you choose, the more you will save – up to 30% off regular ticket prices, with free and flexible ticket exchanges and priority seating

Create your own adventure by July 31 for your best choice of seats. We look forward to seeing you at the theater next season! 

If you need any assistance, contact First Stage at (414) 267-2961 or ticketmanager@firststage.org. 

PSA: Bob Marley’s THREE LITTLE BIRDS at First Stage!

YES -> That Bob Marley and as First Stage is saying: Bob Marley’s THREE LITTLE BIRDS brings Jamaican good vibes to First Stage this spring! So what else do we know?

-Join Ziggy as he overcomes his fears and enjoys the adventures of life-  

Infectious reggae music, colorful costumes and sets bring the culture of Jamaica to life in the Todd Wehr Theater with First Stage’s production of Bob Marley’s THREE LITTLE BIRDS. This delightful play is based on the children’s book by Cedella Marley, Bob Marley’s daughter, and includes music and lyrics by Bob Marley and is adapted for the stage by Michael J. Bobbitt. Arrangements, orchestrations and additional music and lyrics are by John L. Cornelius, II. Ziggy is afraid to leave his house. He is too busy worrying about tropical storms, evil spirits and the sneaky, hair-grabbing trickster, Duppy. With the help of his feathered friends, Ziggy will learn that “every little thing is gonna be all right!” With music from the legendary reggae artist, audience members young and old will enjoy jammin’ with this timeless tale of peace and love.  

Bob Marley’s THREE LITTLE BIRDS runs April 21 – May 21, 2023 at the Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Theater, located at 929 N. Water Street in downtown Milwaukee. Tickets start at $18 and can be purchased in person at the Marcus Center Box Office at 929 N. Water Street, by phone at (414) 273-7206 or online at firststage.org. Performance runtime is approximately 70 minutes, which includes a brief intermission. 

From Director Samantha D. Montgomery: “Ziggy is fearful about what might happen to him and this restricts him from living and enjoying the adventures of life. This play, Bob Marley’s  

THREE LITTLE BIRDS, adapted for the stage by Michael J. Bobbitt, encourages us to enjoy the adventures of life by not allowing our fears to stifle us. Instead, we must rebuild ourselves and overcome our fears by finding the strength within ourselves to make bravery our only choice.” 

Cedella Marley (Author) is the first born of Bob and Rita Marley and a descendant of reggae royalty. She is an accomplished singer, an inspiring author, an adventurous fashion designer and visionary entrepreneur. The world first met Cedella as a singing and dancing teenager with The Melody Makers, the Marley sibling group featuring her younger brothers Ziggy and Stephen. The group toured the world establishing a new generation of Marley musical mystique, as they sold millions of albums and won three Grammy Awards. In 1993, Cedella was appointed as C.E.O. of Tuff Gong International, the group of companies now includes a renowned state of the art recording studio in Kingston, Jamaica, which is utilized by the island’s top reggae artists and producers, Marley’s sons and an array of international artists. Cedella is also an accomplished children’s book author, having written The Boy from Nine Miles (The Early Life of Bob Marley), Three Little BirdsOne Love and Every Little Thing. Published by Chronicle Books in 2012 is Cedella’s Every Little Thingis adapted from the lyrics to her father’s beloved song Three Little Birds. Debuting in an Off-Broadway children’s play adaptation in 2014 this children’s book is a follow up to Chronicle’s widely successful earlier release of One Love. Adapted from one of Bob Marley’s most beloved songs, One Love brings the joyful spirit and unforgettable lyrics of his music to life for a new generation. This heartwarming picture book offers an upbeat testament to the amazing things that can happen when we all get together with one love in our hearts. To learn more about her creative and philanthropic work, visit: cedellamarley.com 

Bob Marley (Music and Lyrics), born Robert Nesta Marley (February 6, 1945 – May 11, 1981), was a Jamaican singer, musician and songwriter. Considered one of the pioneers of reggae, his musical career was marked by fusing elements of reggae, ska and rocksteady as well as his distinctive vocal and songwriting style. Marley’s contributions to music increased the visibility of Jamaica worldwide and made him a global figure in popular culture to this day. Over the course of his career, Marley became known as a Rastafari icon, and he infused his music with a sense of spirituality. He is also considered a global symbol of Jamaican music and culture and identity and was controversial in his outspoken support for democratic social reforms. Bob Marley 

Michael J. Bobbitt (Playwright) is an award-winning theater director, choreographer and playwright who has dedicated his professional career to arts leadership. He began his tenure as Executive Director of Mass Cultural Council in February 2021 and is the highest-ranking cultural official in Massachusetts. Bobbitt serves on the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) Board of Directors, the National Assembly of State Arts Agency’s (NASAA) Board of Directors and was selected for artEquity’s BIPOC Leadership Circle. He is the former Artistic Director of the New Repertory Theater in Watertown, Massachusetts and the Adventure Theater in Maryland. Bobbitt gained extensive experience in nonprofit arts management by training at Harvard Business School’s Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management, The National Arts Strategies Chief Executive Program and Cornell University’s Diversity and Inclusion Certification Program. As a director and choreographer, he has worked nationally and internationally. As a writer his plays have been published by Concord Theatricals, Broadway Publishing and Plays for Young Audiences. Bobbitt is the recipient of the Excel Leadership Award (Center for Nonprofit Advancement), the Emerging Leader Award (County Executive’s Excellence in the Arts and Humanities) and Person of the Year Award (Maryland Theatre Guide), along with eight Helen Hayes Awards. 

Samantha D. Montgomery (Director/Director ofArtistic Inclusion and Community Engagement) is a performance artist who is committed to the process of learning. She has worked in both traditional and non-traditional educational settings. Teaching is her passion, connectivity is her goal and working collaboratively in unity to nurture trust, acceptance, inclusion and community is her commitment. She has enjoyed working at First Stage as a Teaching Artist and is grateful for the opportunity to work as the Artistic Inclusion and Community Engagement Director. Samantha is a member of Actors’ Equity Association. She holds a BA from Alverno College in Professional Communication, a MS from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Administrative Leadership and Supervision in Adult Education and a MA from Alverno College in Education.  

Sonya Thompson (Choreographer) was born and raised in Jamaica. She has been dancing since she was 4 years old. Embedded in her soul are the traditional culturalisms of African people throughout the Caribbean Diaspora. She has an Associate’s Degree from MATC in Administrative Professional Applied Science and plans to pursue her Bachelor’s degree from University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee in Criminal Justice. 

About: Bob Marley’s THREE LITTLE BIRDS
Based on a story by Cedella Marley; Music and Lyrics by Bob Marley
Adapted for the stage by Michael J. Bobbitt
Arrangements, Orchestrations, Additional Music & Lyrics by John L. Cornelius, II 

Directed by Samantha D. Montgomery
Choreographed by Sonya Thompson of Ko-Thi Dance Company 

Location: Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Theater, 929 N. Water Street, Milwaukee 

Live Performances: April 21 – May 21, 2023 

Description: Ziggy’s afraid to leave the house. He’s too busy worrying about tropical storms, evil spirits and the sneaky, hair-grabbing trickster, Duppy. With the help of his feathered friends, Ziggy will learn that “every little thing is gonna be all right!” With music from the legendary reggae artist, get jammin’ with this timeless tale of peace and love. Performance runtime is approximately 70 minutes, which includes a brief intermission. Suggested for families with young people ages 3+. 

Visit here for additional details, ticket information, and special performance info (pay what you can, ASL interpretation, cast info, and such).