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Bob Marley's Song For Children

Bob Marley made plenty of music that lends itself to a feel-good kids’ show.

Consider the lyrics: “Every little thing is gonna be all right”; “Let’s get together and feel all right”; “I shot the sheriff.” O.K., maybe that last one is a little mature for toddlers, and that’s surely why, in “Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds,” a new jukebox musical for children, you hear it only instrumentally, an in-joke for the parents.

Adventure Theater MTC, which created this show, based on a story by Marley’s daughter Cedella Marley and Gerald Hausman, is careful to establish an innocent tone to complement a meandering tale that takes the audience from one Marley hit to another.

The narrative centers on a fearful boy named Ziggy (Jobari Parker-Namdar), who would rather stay at home and watch television than explore the island of Jamaica. Eventually, he does venture outside with his friend Nansi (Brittany N. Williams), where he encounters an evil bird, Duppy (S. Lewis Feemster), who wants to steal his dreadlocks.

While Mr. Parker-Namdar’s pouting demeanor makes the show’s center somewhat sour, the bubbly cast is generally lively company. Ms. Williams has charm to spare, and Mr. Feemster chews scenery as the kind of cackling villain necessary to increase the drama. But mostly, the actors in the short scenes that make up the story seem in a hurry to get to the next song (or songs, since several are often spliced together in one number).

As is often the case with jukebox musicals, the songs are clumsily shoehorned into the narrative. A romantic subplot sneaks in, perhaps because the song “Is This Love?” is used. And “Running Away” requires a bird to forgo flying in the climactic chase. I suspect that few kids will notice and most adults won’t mind, since they are lovely tunes sung with upbeat verve, if not much emotional resonance. Marley’s songs have an easygoing, ambling pace, but this musical is more scrambling fun.

“Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds” continues through Feb. 23 at the New Victory Theater, 209 West 42nd Street, Manhattan; 646-223-3010,

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