Wednesday, May 27, 2015


 David in character
'THE ENFORCERS' - From left to right - David Heron as Tony Welsh, John Andrew Morrison as Claudie Massop and Luke Forbes as Tek Life, in 'Marley.'
David Heron
New York – May 28, 2015
Award winning playwright and actor David Heron is celebrating another major career milestone as part of the cast of Marley, the world premiere musical based on the life of Jamaican reggae icon Bob Marley, which had its gala opening night at the Baltimore Centerstage Theater in Maryland on May 13.
The new musical, with book by Kwame Kwei Armah - who also serves as director -and music and lyrics by Bob Marley, has been playing to rave reviews and sold out houses since it began preview performances in early May, a week  in advance of its official opening night.
Heron plays the role of former PNP activist Tony Welsh, who, along with JLP contemporaries Claudie Massop and Tek Life, were instrumental in bringing Marley (played in the production by You Tube singing sensation Mitchell Brunings, of Holland's The Voice) back to Jamaica for the now famous One Love Peace Concert in 1978, after the singer's self imposed exile to London in the mid seventies.
Marley had retreated to England in late 1976 after being shot in an assassination attempt made on his life at his 56 Hope Road residence, on the eve of the Smile Jamaica Christmas concert and during the run up to the tumultuous 1976 general elections.
The musical examines the personal and political events in and around Marley's life leading up to the assassination, and his subsequent sojourn in London, as he embarked on what was to become the most artistically productive period of his career.
For Heron, whose recent acting credits have included acclaimed performances in major Shakespearean productions such as Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus and Much Ado About Nothing, the Marley experience has been a welcome change of pace, and has proven both artistically challenging and professionally rewarding.
"My acting resume had been leaning towards the very classical for the last few years, so to do Marley- which is a modern period piece and my first ever musical- is an exciting and very different challenge," he says.
Heron describes his character in the story as somewhat cool and taciturn -a loyal PNP supporter who speaks relatively little, but who has a steely willingness to do what he has to, to survive.
"In my Shakespearean or other classical roles, the language- the spoken word- has been everything.  With Tony Welsh, it's how he uses his body that helps inform who he is. His silences speak volumes and he says more with a look or gesture than a half page of dialogue. That's a very new, more controlled, style of performance than I'm used to playing, but Kwame is a brilliant and collaborative director and his help has been invaluable to me."
According to Heron, Tony Welsh, Tek Life (played by Luke Forbes) and Claude Massop (played by Jamaican John Andrew Morrison), are used as important dramatic devices throughout the story to illustrate the political tensions in Jamaica at the time.
"In the play, Claudie and Tek Life are, of course, unstintingly loyal to the JLP Opposition Leader Edward Seaga, while Tony's allegiance is unwavering to Prime Minister Michael Manley. But when it mattered, they united   and called a truce in their communities, then travelled to London to ask Bob to return and help seal the peace with the One Love Concert. There was still a code of honor and respect among them. And acting those scenes out with Luke, who is of Jamaican parentage, and John Andrew, who is Jamaican like me, as well as Howard Overshown, who portrays Michael Manley- is just incredible. They are all amazing actors, and the same can truly be said of the entire cast, nearly thirty strong. It's just a real honor to be part of something so massive and so well received. Without a doubt, it's one of the most important projects of my career to date."
Heron can still remember growing up in Jamaica during the time in which the show is set, and says some of the memories evoked during the rehearsal process were unsettling.
"I was very young, but I can still remember my parents warning me not to repeat anything political I might hear at home to anyone at school or elsewhere, because   you could wind up hurt or worse if   the wrong people found out who your parents were voting for….My dad taught at Kingston Technical High School in downtown Kingston and I just remember everyone being so fearful all the time that some little incident could flare up and shut the whole city down…It was scary."
On the nostalgic side however, many of the songs in the show, including Redemption Song, One Love and Three Little Birds were well known to Heron from his days as a performer with the acclaimed University Singers, when Marley's songs formed a popular part of the choir's repertoire.
"I was singing those songs years ago when I first started my performing career with the UWI Singers, under Mr. Noel Dexter and Professor Rex Nettleford - and now here I am, doing them all over again… It feels a homecoming- like a part of my life has come full circle. And it's pretty cool."
Marley continues at the Baltimore Centerstage Theater until June 14.

Press Release from:
Rachel Damarr Williams
Publicity Co-ordinator
Sure Thing Productions
718- 444- 4656

1 comment:

  1. I had the privilege of seeing this wonderful performance and production here in Baltimore on Sunday night. This was really one of the best musicals I have ever seen and the producer/director, Kwei Armah, has been able to compress half a decade of time and hundreds of significant events into a 2 hour presentation. I believe this play has a great future and I look forward to following it on the bigger stages all over. A movie too, why not ? Fantastic crew!!!