From Camberwell to the West End: Meet Michael Duke playing reggae legend Bob Marley in musical Get Up Stand Up

Taking on the role of one of the most significant cultural figures in history would be a daunting task for many, but for Camberwell-born actor and singer Michael Duke it’s a privilege.

From the hills of rural Jamaica, armed only with his overwhelming talent, Bob Marley touched millions across the globe with his prophetic musical message of love and unity.

Taking on the role of one of the most significant cultural figures in history would be a daunting task for many, but for Camberwell-born actor and singer Michael Duke it’s a privilege.

Michael Duke is currently starring as Bob Marley in the musical ‘Get Up Stand Up’

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    Duke took over the role of Bob Marley in the West End hit show Get Up Stand Up from Arinzé Kene in March, and has been inspiring audiences ever since.

    “This is the biggest role I’ve ever tackled and have had the privilege of playing,” Duke told LondonWorld at the Lyric Theatre in Soho.

    “As a person of Jamaican heritage it’s really important for me to be able to share our culture and stories in the middle of the West End.”

    Since opening in October last year Get Up Stand Up has been nominated for four Olivier awards including best busical and won best original score.

    The explosive production celebrates the immense life and timely message of Jamaican soul rebel Bob Marley - from a life of poverty to visionary international superstar and features several of his most iconic songs including Redemption Song and No Woman No Cry.

    “There are such great performers in this production, even every performance you sort of watch people on stage and are wowed by the work that they’re doing in front of you,” said Duke.

    “I think Redemption Song is probably one of my favourite moments and songs to see in the show.

    “My favourite aspect of performing the show is the audience, especially when you’re performing for people of Jamaican heritage, as it means a lot to have your stories and culture represented and hopefully done in an authentic way.”

    Michael Duke as Bob Marley - photo by Craig Sugden

    Duke has been performing for over 20 years starting his career as Young Simba in The Lion King.

    He has appeared in the West End run of The Inheritance, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Thriller Live and The Rat Pack LIVE!

    But for Duke he doesn’t need to be on the West End stage to enjoy performing.

    “For me it’s the privilege of working in theatre, it doesn’t have to be the West End, it could be a fringe, a local theatre, whatever it is,” he said.

    “For me it’s creating theatrical work and having the opportunity to do it.

    “It’s great to be in the West End, it’s a great place to be but theatre is theatre.”

    Get Up Stand Up! The Bob Marley musical is running till January 29 2023 at the Lyric Theatre, 29 Shaftesbury Ave.