Farmers Alley Theatre, Face Off Theatre Company and the Black Arts and Cultural Center are collaborating on a live presentation in Bronson Park. WMUK’s Gordon Bolar has this review of “Three Little Birds” and some updates of Farmers Alley’s summer activities.
Family audiences, and particularly children, will enjoy Three Little Birds, an upbeat outdoor summer celebration, filled with colorful characters, reggae music and dance on the Rotary Stage in Bronson Park.
The play brings to life the music of Bob Marley, while underscoring the values of peace, harmony and unity. Judging from the reaction of the 90 or so attendees at a performance Saturday afternoon August 22 this message provided welcome relief from the stresses of the current world.
The story is based on a children’s book by Bob Marley’s daughter, Cedella Marley. It centers around the efforts of family members, friends, and creatures of the island to coax Ziggy, a reclusive eleven-year-old Jamaican boy, played by Michael Davis Arnold, away from the disturbing news on his television set.
Under the direction of Marissa Harrington, who always focuses our attention in the right place, the show’s six actors sing and perform Marley favorites to a lively pre-recorded sound track. Bri Edgerton, Este’fan Kizer and Khajidah Brown, as the three birds, chide Ziggy with vocal energy and the inventive choreography of Heather Mitchell.
Numbers such as “Jamming’” set the stage for the vibrant Jamaican world that awaits Ziggy’s exploration. As Ziggy emerges from his safe haven to sing “Don’t Rock My Boat” he experiences the first stirrings of romantic feelings. The song “You Runnin’ Away” teaches Ziggy that he can’t hide from his emotions.
Duppy, a sinister dark presence, played by Ariel Lewis, embodies the dangers that Ziggy fears. This malevolent trickster seeks to gain power by stealing Ziggy’s dreadlocks. Duppy is outdone by the schemes of the clever Nansi, in a winsome performance by Bri Edgerton.
The reggae anthem, “One Love”, brings the performers together for a rousing finale, as Ziggy, birds and friends embrace the people and rich culture of Jamaica that surround them.
The final performances of “Three Little Birds” will take place on Saturday August 29th in Bronson Park at 4 and 7 p.m. Theatregoers are encouraged to arrive early, bring masks and observe social distancing for this family musical.
In addition to “Three Little Birds”, Farmers Alley has had a busy summer filled with creative solutions to providing theatre related programming for online audiences. On Sunday evenings, Farmers Alley has recently offered a number of entertaining one-hour sessions that have included cast reunions from past productions.
On selected Thursday evenings Koch’s Korner has featured Jeremy Koch and local theatre artists. Tuesday evenings have provided online audiences with Tech Tuesday sessions that take viewers behind the scenes for a look at stage management or lighting design.
Many of these sessions can be viewed online currently on the Farmers Alley website or Facebook page. Farmers Alley is also presenting “Backyard Broadway”, a live 45 minute musical review available for backyard audiences of up to ten people.
At a time when the COVID 19 pandemic has severely restricted the ability of theatre companies to present live performances, Farmers Alley continues to find innovative ways to engage theatregoers and hold their interest.