Tag Archives: Charles Blyth

Get Up Stand Up!

Get Up Stand Up!


Lyric Theatre

GET UP, STAND UP! at the Lyric Theatre


Get Up Stand Up!

“Brooks practically steals the show with her soul-stirring “No Woman, No Cry”.


There’s a backline of oversized speakers, on which the cast and musicians sway to the beat while Bob Marley bounces downstage to take the microphone. Over the vamping, pulsating music, Marley introduces the cast members, inviting applause for each name check. We are definitely in gig territory here – not one of the oldest, most elaborate West End theatres. A sensation reinforced by the stripped back narrative that follows. The music is key. But like with Marley himself, it serves the purpose of getting the message across in ways that mere words cannot achieve.

David Albury bears a striking resemblance, physically and vocally. He is the alternate Bob Marley, but the role seems to have been written for him alone as he takes us on the journey of one of the most popular, yet most misunderstood, musicians in modern culture. Marley has achieved immortality, but some argue that his image is commercialised and diluted. “Get Up Stand Up!” gives us a glimpse of the real deal. The ghetto kid who believed in freedom. And fought for it. The convert to Rastafari. The kid sent away by his mother to Kingston for a better life. The ambassador of love, loss and redemption. The victim of an assassination attempt who headlined the ‘One Love’ Peace Concert in 1978, receiving the United Nations Peace Medal of the Third World. The cancer victim. But we also catch sight of the misogyny, the carelessness and self-absorption that affected those closest to him – namely his wife, Rita (Gabrielle Brooks), and long-term girlfriend, Cindy Breakspeare (Shanay Holmes).

The most revealing and poignant moments of the evening are provided by Brooks and Holmes. Hearing Marley’s words resonate from these two formidable women’s voices adds layers of compassion, tenderness, and bitterness. Brooks practically steals the show with her soul-stirring “No Woman, No Cry”.

Marley’s somewhat questionable attitude towards women is certainly thrown into the spotlight, and while writer Lee Hall tries to mitigate by highlighting Marley’s ‘marriage to the band’, we never really get a sense of what makes him tick. As mentioned, we do only get the broad outlines. The dialogue between the numbers does tend to assume we know so much already. But with such a wealth of material that’s probably a necessity, and it does spur us on to do our own homework. In the meantime, we can relish in the sheer energy of Clint Dyer’s production. It is a jukebox musical that never feels like one. Marley’s songs are the soundtrack to his life, so obviously make the perfect soundtrack to this sweeping panoramic vision of a visionary artist. Dyer races through the story, but occasionally stops the track to zoom in and focus on particular moments. Marley watches his younger self (brilliantly played by Maxwell Cole) leave the family home, while later on the young Marley stands by to witness his older self receive his cancer diagnosis.

These moments of unconventionality never detract from the ‘concert’ feel of the show. And, after all, it is the songs that tell the story. Shelley Maxwell’s choreography is stunning but, with an eye on a West End audience, occasionally mismatched to the material. But the roots are still there, just as Marley stayed true to his own roots even when Chris Blackwell of Island Records (Henry Faber) sensed a need to reach out to the predominantly white, British audience in the 1970s.

The set list is comprehensive, including lesser known, more lyrically challenging numbers along with the signature tunes we know and love. As the evening slows down to a plaintively acoustic “Redemption Song” we see the intoxicating mix of the gentle and the explosive that coexisted within Marley’s spirit. And his spirit is in full attendance throughout the night. The crowd can’t fail to follow the command of “Get Up Stand Up” during the rousing encore.



Reviewed on 23rd August 2022

by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Craig Sugden




Other show recently reviewed by Jonathan:


Pennyroyal | ★★★★ | Finborough Theatre | July 2022
Millennials | ★★★ | The Other Palace | July 2022
Fashion Freak Show | ★★★★★ | Roundhouse | July 2022
Sobriety on the Rocks | ★★★★ | Bread and Roses Theatre | July 2022
Whistle Down The Wind | ★★★★ | Watermill Theatre Newbury | July 2022
The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe | ★★★★★ | Gillian Lynne Theatre | July 2022
Tasting Notes | ★★ | Southwark Playhouse | July 2022
Monster | ★★★★★ | Park Theatre | August 2022
Cruise | ★★★★★ | Apollo Theatre | August 2022
Diva: Live From Hell | ★★★★★ | The Turbine Theatre | August 2022


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The Simon & Garfunkel Story – 4 Stars


The Simon & Garfunkel Story

Lyric Theatre

Reviewed – 23rd July 2018


“Warson’s fluid guitar picking enhances the authenticity and allows the purity of the voices to shine through”


For some, it feels like it is the end of an era as Paul Simon begins winding up the final leg of his ‘Homeward Bound – The Farewell Tour’. At seventy-six, and after five decades of writing songs that have become part of the fabric of people’s lives, he describes bringing his performing career to a natural end as “a little unsettling, a touch exhilarating and something of a relief”. Of his many concert appearances over the years he is most fond of the reunion gig in Central Park, New York with his partner and childhood friend Art Garfunkel in 1981. It was a homecoming that served as a reminder of the duo’s unparalleled achievements, and the recreation of this event is the highlight of “The Simon & Garfunkel Story” currently enjoying a nationwide tour.

Dean Elliott’s show is a timely tribute to the two young boys from New York who went on to become the most successful music duo of all time. Given that they had one of the most fractious relationships in music, it should come as no surprise to learn that Simon and Garfunkel almost didn’t make it beyond their time as a rock ’n’ roll duo named ‘Tom and Jerry’. And like with ‘The Beatles’, it is sometimes hard to remember how short lived the partnership was. By 1970 it was all over.

This act ably captures the musical essence. Philip Murray Warson as Paul Simon and Charles Blyth as Art Garfunkel make an accomplished duo. Both possess the vocal strength needed to pull off the material, and the harmonies are spot on. Opening with ‘The Sound of Silence’ all the old favourites are there. The most haunting moments accompany the sparser numbers, such as ‘For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her’ and ‘Cathy’s Song’. Warson’s fluid guitar picking enhances the authenticity and allows the purity of the voices to shine through.

After a while, though, it is a bit like being with old friends who have lost their sparkle. Admittedly this is a tribute act, and nobody is pretending that the charisma and the chemistry of the original could, or should, be replicated. That is not the point. Yet there is a distinct lack of theatricality to the show. The highs and lows of their compelling story are flattened by a monotone, and mainly humourless, delivery of facts between the musical numbers.

The second act does step up a gear, providing many uplifting moments culminating in the iconic ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’. Blyth begins with a whispering falsetto, and later soars, effectively mirroring Art Garfunkel’s performance, while Warson watches from the wings as Paul Simon would have done. It is often the case that artists produce their most heart-stirring material at the height of their turbulence. Simon would come to regret insisting that Garfunkel provide the vocals for that particular song. “Many times on a stage” he once said, “when I’d be sitting off to the side and Artie would be singing Bridge, people would stomp and cheer when it was over, and I would think, ‘That’s my song, man’”

The audience did stomp and cheer, deservedly so; but for me, I just wish that we could have seen some of those troubled waters in the performances.


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Betty Zapata


The Simon & Garfunkel Story

Lyric Theatre and touring



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