BWW Interview: Taryn Carmona Captures Reggae for Children in BOB MARLEY'S THREE LITTLE BIRDS at Synchronicity Theatre
Many of us remember Bob Marley's introduction of reggae to the world and his great success with this style of music. Since his passing in 1981, several of his children have had their own successes, including Cedella, his oldest child, who wrote a children's book , which has now become a stage musical, Bob Marley's Three Little Birds and which will be presented by Synchronicity Theatre in Atlanta from Feb. 1-24. I spoke with director Taryn Carmona about the upcoming show.
ME: Tell me a little about Three Little Birds.
Taryn Carmona: It's a musical featuring all Bob Marley reggae music with the story written by Cedella Marley, who is Bob Marley's eldest daughter who used the song "Three Little Birds" as inspiration for the book which was later adapted into the musical.
ME: What is the story about?
Taryn Carmona: It's about a young, eleven-year-old boy, Ziggy. I like to say it's about his "anxiety monster"; he just lets his anxieties get the best of him. He's afraid of everything, whether it be hurricanes, a mongoose, and, for our story, the villain, Duppy, which is part of Jamaican folklore (a ghost or evil spirit). As the story progresses, his bird friends are helping him conquer his fears and move forward to celebrate life, which is a huge theme all across Bob Marley's music. So it's really about getting Ziggy out of his head and into celebrating life.
ME: There's also a mention of his mother and a neighbor who help him.
Taryn Carmona: For our particular production, we imagine that these are the birds. The three little birds are everybody's community, that friend on your shoulder telling you that everything's going to be all right.
ME: So how would kids in Atlanta, who may not know anything about Jamaica, relate to the story?
Taryn Carmona: Oh, my goodness, that's the best part about Bob Marley's music because his themes are universal. He was the first reggae artist, and honestly, I don't think there's anyone who's done more than he did, bringing that style of music into the forefront across the world. His themes, like I said, are about celebrating life, about resilience, about hope-and so it doesn't matter that it's set to a reggae beat; the lyrics and the message are universal.
ME: It sounds like it's going to be a lot of fun. Tell me about this Friday event that goes on for the kids and parents. They wear pajamas?
Taryn Carmona: Yes! That is a staple of all of Synchronicity's shows: the PJs and Play on Fridays. We invite not just the kids but the adults to wear their pajamas. They can bring blankets and sit on the floor and eat milk and cookies while they watch a show. Part of that is because it's a 7:00 show, one of the only evening shows in the schedule, so the little ones may fall asleep afterwards.
ME: Well, I'm coming opening night, so do I have to wear pajamas?
Taryn Carmona: Oh, we'd love it if you do. We have an opening night party, and you see throngs of people in their onesies. It's the best thing.
ME: I also noticed you have a musical director and a choreographer. Does that mean they'll be dancing on the stage, too?
Taryn Carmona: Oh, yes. We're trying our hardest to make it so that when you walk into our space, you feel the rhythm and the spirit of Jamaica. That's in the music and that's in the movement. It's in the smells and the sounds and everything. Jenise Cook is our choreographer. And we have Renee Clark, who is our music director. She's just a legend in Atlanta theatre; she is amazing, and we're so fortunate to have her.
ME: So is it a live band or is the music recorded?
ME: So you only have the Friday performances at 7:00. Tell me about the other performances. You have two on both Saturday and Sunday?
Taryn Carmona: We do. Saturdays are 1:00 and 4:00; Sundays are 2:00 and 5:00, and we also have some school day matinees at 10:00, typically the Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday before the weekend shows for the public. We have groups signing up for that, though there are schools around us that may not know that we do shows that cater to that audience.
ME: I'm sure I've left something out that you might want to say about the show.
Taryn Carmona: You know, as I was writing my director's notes and what I want to say about this show-I have been an arts educator and theatre teacher for almost two decades now and now I'm a mom myself, and when I was listening to this music as a teenager growing up I don't think I understood how important these themes are for children. If anybody can take anything away from this it's that no matter what happens, no matter what bad situations come down, even if your story didn't have a happy ending that everything will be all right. Lean on your community; lean on the people around you and have a zest for life, and everything will turn out. I think that is a theme we should be teaching all of our children, and maybe we wouldn't have so many acts of violence and all of these things that have seemed to have popped up in recent years.
Show times: Fridays at 7:00 p.m. (PJs and Play). Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Sundays at 2 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. School Matinees: Jan 30, 31st, and February 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 20, 21, 22 at 10 am.
Photo Credit: Jerry Siegel