Following a run at London’s Old Vic and a West End transfer, the new show from Olivier winner and Tony Award nominee Conor McPherson and music icon Bob Dylan makes its American premiere. More…
Dylan’s inimitable songbook is transformed into the story of a down-on-its-luck community on the brink of change in Duluth, Minnesota in 1934.
"The quintessence of great theater. It's an ingenious production...Every musical number is comprised by Dylan's songs creating a miraculous theatrical experience that will leave you thunder struck with awe...This production has a unifying colorblindness that blends peaceful harmony in song & dance. The universal themes of pain, loneliness, and unrequited love transcends the era...The storyline moves seamlessly & poignantly to Dylan's lyrics." Full Review
“One of those once-in-a-lifetime productions...The story by McPherson could not be more simple...Extraordinary cast...These are songs that you have never heard before even if you have heard them before. The arrangements and these voices seem to pull the lyrics down from the rafters and weave them into story...The panoply of events rolls out with excruciating detail and slowly seeps over the footlights into your core.” Full Review
"Set in a dark time, 'Girl From the North Country' creates a community on stage as do the best plays and musicals. Its tale of lost souls attempting to keep their heads above water is universal in both its message and its approach. Conor McPherson has never written so accessible a play before for Americans, and Bob Dylan's songs have never sounded so poignant. 'Girl from the North Country' is both unforgettable and not to be missed." Full Review
"If McPherson’s characters shall not be released from their suffering, the playwright allows them, and us, deliverance through Dylan’s music—gloriously arranged by Hale, whose orchestrations embrace Dylan’s roots while providing soulful showcases for singers...If Dylan recognized youth as fleeting, he also extolled its virtues with as much urgency as irony. His and McPherson’s shared ability to find beauty in longing alone make 'Girl From the North Country' transporting and transcendent." Full Review
"Conor McPherson’s radiant musical is as eccentric and unclassifiable as any fellow traveler of Dylan should be. A remarkable piece of theater, 'Girl' opens tonight at the Public Theater with an impeccable cast...One of the best ensemble performances in recent memory...The Dylan songs – culled from his entire career to date and sung by the uniformly excellent cast – don’t so much unfold the narrative as convey mood and characters’ interiors" Full Review
“A thing of beauty wrapped in sadness...A work of art that is engaging, insightful, and chillingly beautiful...A moving portrait of life...What is even more amazing is the way McPherson has integrated the music of Dylan into the stories of these troubled people...Each song is beautifully sung...This production has a unity and ethos in which every element seems to come together to paint a vivid picture of these people and their trials...A remarkable achievement...The cast is uniformly perfect.” Full Review
"A rich and strange marriage of the talents...If you’re a hard-core Dylan fan, you’ve heard these songs before. But, for me at least, they’ve never sounded quite so heartbreakingly personal and universal at the same time...The most imaginative and inspired use to date of a popular composer’s songbook in this blighted era of the jukebox musical...A uniformly excellent American cast that wears its roles like confining and prickly skins." Full Review
"An extraordinary musical, unlike any currently playing in New York...Hunger rumbles off the stage in McPherson's urgently staged production, with earthy, emotionally raw performances from the entire cast...By incorporating its big, contemplative set pieces into a difficult, complicated story of American life, 'Girl From the North Country' draws on the deeper traditions of opera and American folk music to create something that feels avant-garde by the current standards of Broadway." Full Review
“McPherson’s lovely, introspective drama that incorporates selections from the extraordinary songbook of...Bob Dylan...Performed quite beautifully by the wondrous ensemble...McPherson doesn't present a plot as much as a collage of encounters reflecting the kind of working class struggles Dylan wrote about. The songs don't come out of the dialogue but play more like unspoken spiritual cries...A thoughtful and compelling collaboration between two master storytellers.” Full Review
“A completely fresh and different kind of musical, that despite the bleakness of its setting and plot will send the audience out exhilarated...While most of the cast has straight drama as well as musical theater credentials, some who are best known in one area surprise us with the way they handle the other...McPherson has succeeded in creating a production that has Dylan's music beautifully and completely integrated into this portrait of of his home town during the Depression." Full Review
"The marvelous aural effect created on the stage by writer-director Conor McPherson and 16 other cast members is of hardship and disappointment ennobled by the healing power of song...The voices of the playwright and songwriter coalesce harmoniously; they seem to be in conversation with each other...'North Country' is a breakthrough for the songbook form...If this wrenching gaggle of souls doesn’t migrate next to a home uptown, then it will be Broadway that is the poorer." Full Review
"One needn’t be a devotee of Bob Dylan to appreciate how the poetry of his song fits an Irish poetic vision of Depression-era America...Simon Hale has beautifully arranged and orchestrated Dylan’s songs for a band of four...The entire cast is excellent...In this haunting and beautiful 'Girl From the North Country,' the Irish McPherson and Dylan, the American, illuminate the dream still alive." Full Review
"Utilizing Dylan’s inimitable songbook as the emotional core of the piece, the story floats out like a lyrical poem tinged with perfectly orchestrated music and songs...The smooth and gently soulful piece, filled to the brim with desperation and hopelessness, blends compassion with desire...The music wraps us in sadness and warmth, all at the same time, ushering us into and out of something so mystically beautiful, that it is almost too difficult to pin down." Full Review
"What makes 'Girl from the North Country'…so special…is the showcase it provides for one magnificent cover after another of Dylan's oeuvre…thanks largely to the extraordinary orchestrations…Because of the show's position between a straight play and a musical, not everyone can avoid overacting...Dylan's lyrics often have little to do with the moments they illustrate…More significant than their specificity is their emotional value…Every song sounds freshly minted." Full Review
"Bleak, enigmatic and haunting piece...In lesser hands, the show may have felt static or unduly depressing. But under McPherson’s focused direction, and with shaded performances from the cast, it proves to be unusually transfixing. Whether you call it a musical, a drama, or something else entirely, 'Girl from the North Country' makes for remarkable theater." Full Review
“Bleak and stunning...What truly makes 'Girl from the North Country' take wing is the marriage of storytelling and music...There are a few holes in the story-telling, some strands that are left hanging, and what seems to be a misplaced upbeat coda intended to cut through the gloom. But between the performances, McPherson's direction, and the extraordinary music, ‘Girl from...’ is an undeniably magnificent theatrical work that reminds us why Dylan recently won the Nobel Prize." Full Review
“First among equals is Mare Winningham as Nick's mentally challenged wife Elizabeth. While her mind may not be all there, she is not so far gone that she is neither unaware of Nick's affair with Mrs. Nielsen (Jeanette Bayardelle) nor of the unhappiness of her children, the hard-drinking Gene (Colton Ryan) and the sullen, pregnant Marianne (Kimber Sprawl). Winningham is often very funny yet ultimately poignant, and her renditions of Dylan's best-known numbers are simply indelible.” Full Review
“If we just assembled to hear the many haunting songs by Dylan as sung by cast members...the experience would be enough of a treat. But McPherson pursued the idea of combining Dylan’s music and lyrics with a story to which they could be emotionally matched...It turns out to be a very creative fit that makes the musical extra fascinating...Here and there fitting a Dylan song into a situation may be slightly strained, but mostly the concept works exceedingly well." Full Review
"Rather than artificially shoehorning songs into a purpose-built narrative, McPherson artfully builds a novelistic tapestry of archetypal figures, the poor and disenfranchised of an America suspended in time, using Dylan's pungently expressive lyrics...These people and their grim situations are carved out of a familiar Americana mold, and yet under McPherson's probing direction, the actors transcend melodramatic cliché, endowing their characters with battered humanity." Full Review
"It's an unusual work in a stirring production that's bound to get under your skin...The work requires an emotional investment that's not easy at first. But thanks to Dylan's searing poetry, featured in some 20 songs, McPherson's brutally honest portraits and a talent pool that's miles deep, the humanity shines through warts and all...Every member of this large ensemble, including onstage musicians, is sublime." Full Review
"Approached by Dylan to create a piece of theater using his music, McPherson has come up with a gripping play that defies categorization...With stunning new arrangements by Simon Hale, the music gives the play plenty to justify its hot-ticket status." Full Review
"The show makes Dylan’s songs as unfamiliar as it can; it freezes them in timelessness...'Girl from the North Country' doesn’t have much plot, but it provides a compelling setting for Dylan’s plangent lyrics, whose range encompasses yearning, bitter confusion and grace. McPherson uses Dylan’s songs as atmosphere in the broadest sense: They are the air the characters breathe. And when the musical’s cool gains force, it acquires a piercing chill." Full Review
"Powerful, ever-poetic Dylan songs have been exquisitely arranged as various solo, ensemble, and choral numbers by Simon Hale, the production’s music supervisor, and they are beautifully performed by a company of top-flight artists...The downside of 'Girl From the North Country' is that McPherson’s saga is so heavily stacked with sorrows that the show threatens to become a thoroughly depressing event rather than a deeply poignant occasion." Full Review
"'Mysterious and dark...Like the folk songs that inspire Dylan's best work, the play blends human-scale drama with forces that lie outside the characters' control...Isn't the onstage equivalent of an obvious Dylan masterpiece...it doesn't have that kind of precision or that kind of mass appeal...It makes emotional, if not always logical, sense...At times, it's weird, fascinating fun. At others, it brings Dylan's obsessions to life as vividly as the songs themselves.” Full Review
"The abundance of characters and the necessity to make room for songs limits the ability to develop any character in depth and rushes the exposition...Many of the plot threads seem overly familiar while others are abruptly dropped without resolution. The songs, while beautifully performed, rarely seemed closely linked to particular events or characters. While it was a pleasure to see so many fine actors on stage, I was sorry that they did not have more opportunity to act." Full Review
See it if You want to see a perfectly told story through the poetic brilliance of Bob Dylan’s music. The cast is phenomenal! This musical is gorgeous.
Don't see it if You don’t want to feel every type of emotion towards the story told by the cast. You feel part of their lives in this intimate staging.
See it if You want to see terrific actors, terrific voices, really great arrangements of Dylan’s songs. Who knew Mare Winningham could sing like that?
Don't see it if You don’t dramatic musicals with Depression-era themes.
See it if See it if you like or never liked the music of Bob Dylan’s music. What is done with his music and the story written around it is great.
Don't see it if I can’t think of a reason not to see it. At the Public before it heads for Broadway
See it if you love Bob Dylan's music. Or if you want to see how McPherson uses the music artfully to comment on the characters' moods and thoughts.
Don't see it if you don't like bleak stories.
See it if If you want to have a new experience in the theatre. Are a fan of Dylan. Lik exquisite singing and acting. Want to be delighted.
Don't see it if You don’t like music and excellent productions
See it if you are interested in human stories told with grace by amazing actors. It's a phenomenal night at the theater.
Don't see it if you are looking for a Bob Dylan jukebox musical. It's really it's own story. I forgot these were famous songs, they fit the plot so well.
Also Well done Conor McPherson.
See it if Excellent use of 20 Bob Dylan songs by a very strong cast. Sad story of life's difficulties in hard times. Very well done
Don't see it if You are looking for exciting. This is thoughtful and rather slow.
See it if Like a tone poem with a Dylan soundtrack that magnifies the sense of loneliness,loss and longing among inhabitants of depression era hotel
Don't see it if It’s not a jukebox musical- not really a musical- it defies categories in its originality so don’t go if you want Dylan’s greatest hits
See it if Dylan songs as a back drop to a drama set during the Great Depression - yes it works. The cast turns in a "John Doyle" like performance.
Don't see it if If the Dylan songbook is not for you then the show is not for you.
See it if you have an open mind and want to see genius staging, acting, singing and story line. The characters are extremely well developed
Don't see it if you are expecting a jukebox musical. The score sets more of a mood than integrates with the istory.
See it if You love Dylan. You appreciate bold and creative attempts at melding drama and music. You want to be swept away by music and story...
Don't see it if You want a conventional musical.
Also Mare Winningham and Kimber Sprawl are stunning. Run, don't walk.
See it if Of course if you ar a Dylan fan. But even if you aren’t the singers are fantastic and the songs are transcendent
Don't see it if You want to see a traditional uplifting musical with a linear plot. It’s pretty dark, but beautiful.
See it if nontraditional musical with Dylan songs; story set in Minn. during Depression & involving many types of loss, loneliness; great characters
Don't see it if want a typical jukebox musical where songs act as the dialogue or where a contrived plot is based on the songs; want a happy story
See it if you want to see a plot-filled piece with well-sung unusual arrangements of Dylan songs -- and an amazing performance by Mare Winningham.
Don't see it if you're looking for a straight-ahead things-are-so-clear musical or want to hear only Dylan's hits.
See it if a sui generis pastiche musical melodrama: stark, melancholy, haunting. Act 2 is a heartbreaker. Astonishing moments in music and staging.
Don't see it if you might find its bleakness dour. It borrows tropes from old-timey Americana, but be prepared for an experimental sensibility.
See it if you enjoy brilliant staging & singing; you like Dylan & the enchanting way songs are used, even if not always explicit to the story. Mare W!
Don't see it if sorrowful story but you root & care for almost everyone on stage; you don't like stories with a heart; extremely talented cast/musicians.
See it if you like shows with music tangentially related to the story, or you want to hear Dylan's songs EXQUISITELY performed by jaw-dropping talent.
Don't see it if you need a clear connection between songs and storyline. It's more "Once" than "Fiddler". It's a parable of a family during the depression.
See it if SUPERB use of Dylan songs which feel organic to story & characters in compelling tale of Depression-era boarding house residents in Duluth.
Don't see it if you're not drawn by exceptional theater w/Eugene O'neill-type story/characters + GRAND HOTEL-type structure + Dylan's music. Pulls you in!
Also I predict this will move to Broadway.
See it if A long time fan of Dylan. Seeing his music worked by Conor McPherson into an interesting historical piece made for a great experience.
Don't see it if Not a fan of Dylan. Not one for stories that are not happy and peppy.
See it if You like Dylan and want to see a new and creative take on his music brilliantly interpreted by a (mostly) younger generation.
Don't see it if You don't like Bob Dylan, you enjoy upbeat, conventional musicals,
See it if You love Bob Dylan tunes splendidly sung and orchestrated within the context of an original story featuring desperate characters.
Don't see it if You're expecting a jaunty feel-good show. The book is serious and sometimes ponderous. But the musical portions are great.
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