Cornelius’ Musical Arrangements for Bob Marley Show Debut in NYC

February 1, 2014
Marley Three Little Birds

Dr. John L. Cornelius, II, Associate Professor and Music Coordinator in the Department of Music and Theatre, provides the musical arrangements and orchestrations for a new children’s musical, Three Little Birds, set to make its New York City debut February 7-23, 2014 at The New Victory Theatre.

The musical is based on a story written by Bob Marley’s daughter Cedella Marley, who adapted the legendary reggae musician’s famous songs into the children’s book, Every Little ThingBob Marley’s Three Little Birds transports kids and adults alike to an island paradise, while also educating audience members about Jamaican culture. From food to folklore—oh, and let’s not forget traditional Reggae music—there’s a lot to take in!

The production is produced by Adventure Theatre, adapted for the stage by Micheal J. Bobbit, directed by Nick Olcott, music direction by Darius Smith and additional music and lyrics by PVAMU’s own Dr. Cornelius.

Of working with Dr. Cornelius, artistic director, Michael J. Bobbit told, “Reggae is very specific. It uses a very limited number of chords, limited rhythm and limited tempo. It is very familiar and has a kind of groove to it that everyone knows. I passed that on to my collaborator, John Cornelius. I’ve been writing with him for sixteen years and he’s a brilliant arranger. I said to him, ‘Hey, how about a new challenge? Take these Bob Marley songs and make them into musical theatre.” And he was able to find some beautiful variety and make these amazing vocal arrangements. The way these songs merged into musical theatre is superb and it is very exciting. The cast of six at times sounds like there are twenty people.”

Dr. Cornelius joined the PVAMU Music Faculty in 2003 and is former Interim Department Head of Music and Theatre. He offers courses on composition and has served as the music director for several PVAMU musical theater productions including Harlem After Hours (2007)A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (2009), Once On This Island (2011) and Jelly’s Last Jam (2013).

The Adventure Theatre premiered Three Little Birds in March 2013. The February 2014 engagement at the New Victory Theatre Marks the show’s New York, Off-Broadway debut.

View a clip of the show, here: