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Review Roundup: GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY Opens On Broadway - See What the Critics Are Saying!

Girl from the North Country

Girl from the North Country celebrates its opening night tonight at Broadway's Belasco Theatre!

Celebrated playwright Conor McPherson boldly reimagines the songs of the legendary Bob Dylan in Girl from the North Country- the soaring masterwork about the dreams we keep close, the people we hold dear, and the place we call home.

The production stars Todd Almond, Jeannette Bayardelle, Jennifer Blood, Law Terrell Dunford, Matthew Frederick Harris, Caitlin Houlahan, Robert Joy, Tony Award nominee Marc Kudisch, Luba Mason, Ben Mayne, Tom Nelis, Tony Award nominee David Pittu, Colton Ryan, Jay O. Sanders, John Schiappa, Austin Scott, Kimber Elayne Sprawl, Rachel Stern, Chiara Trentalange, Bob Walton, Chelsea Lee Williams, and Tony/Academy Award nominee & two-time Emmy Award winner Mare Winningham.

Read the reviews!

Ben Brantley, The New York Times: A nation is broken. Life savings have vanished overnight. Home as a place you thought you would live forever no longer exists. People don't so much connect as collide, even members of the same family. And it seems like winter is never going to end. That's the view from Duluth, Minn., 1934, as conjured in the profoundly beautiful "Girl From the North Country," a work by the Irish dramatist Conor McPherson built around vintage songs by Bob Dylan. You're probably thinking that such a harsh vision of an American yesterday looks uncomfortably close to tomorrow. Who would want to stare into such a dark mirror? Yet while this singular production, which opened on Thursday night at the Belasco Theater under McPherson's luminous direction, evokes the Great Depression with uncompromising bleakness, it is ultimately the opposite of depressing. That's because McPherson hears America singing in the dark. And those voices light up the night with the radiance of divine grace.

Michael Dale, BroadwayWorld: Don't expect a rousing "Rainy Day Woman"/"Blowin' In The Wind"/"Mr. Tambourine Man" dance mega-mix finale climaxing this somber, touching production that originated at London's Old Vic before crossing over to The Public in October of 2018. And unless you're a Dylan aficionado, don't even expect to be very familiar with most of the words and melodies you'll hear performed quite beautifully by the wondrous ensemble of actor/singers, most of whom are now repeating their Off-Broadway performances at the Belasco. Do expect to be fully engaged in what is truly a thoughtful and compelling collaboration between two master storytellers.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: No disrespect to Bob Dylan, one of the greatest songwriters in modern American music, but hearing his tunes sung by the melodious voices in Girl From the North Country is a revelation - the second time even more than the first. Moving to Broadway after a hit 2018 run at the Public Theater, this brilliantly conceived project from Irish writer-director Conor McPherson could be called the anti-jukebox musical. Rather than being forcibly wedged into the narrative, the songs are used with imagination and a sweeping amplitude of feeling to deepen the mood, enrich the characters and liberate their inner voices. The result is a rapturous act of theatrical storytelling.

Terry Teachout, Wall Street Journal: Wonderful news: "Girl From the North Country," Conor McPherson's self-directed jukebox musical based on the songs of Bob Dylan, has reached Broadway after hugely successful runs in London and at New York's Public Theater, slightly altered but essentially the same as the show I reviewed in 2018, calling it "a musical that does complete justice to the artistry of the great American songwriter whose genius inspired it."

David Cote, Theater News Online: My takeaway when Girl From the North Country opened at the Public Theater last fall: "An American musical by people who hate musicals and don't know America." Sounds harsh, but I stand by it. Although I've adored Irish writer-director Conor McPherson's work for years, I found his book for this Bob Dylan jukebox musical to be a pile of Depression-era clichés one might amass from a week of binging TCM or skimming Steinbeck. As for the integration of Dylan songs, the tracks don't illuminate character or plot so much as pause the narrative so everyone can enjoy a folksy singalong (cast members even climb into the drum kit). The result - which began as a hit on London's West End with a non-American cast - seemed to me a creaky period play wrapped around a tribute concert, all imbued with a gothic, melancholic vibe because everyone onstage is broke, unloved, addicted, mad or running from the past.

Matt Windman, amNY: Kitchen sink drama is beautifully intermixed with approximately 20 Bob Dylan songs in "Girl from the North Country," a haunting, mysterious and stunning new musical written and directed by Irish playwright Conor McPherson and set in Duluth, Minnesota (Dylan's hometown) during the Depression. It has arrived on Broadway following earlier runs in London and Off-Broadway at the Public Theater.

Robert Hofler, The Wrap: Something similar is going on in the theater, only different. "Flyover porn" is too strong, so let's call it "country pulp fiction." After engagements in London and Off Broadway's Public Theater, the musical "Girl From the North Country" opened Thursday at Broadway's Belasco Theatre. It features 20 songs by Bob Dylan that have nothing to do with the lurid Depression-era melodrama written by Conor McPherson, who hails from Dublin. The story's connection to the legendary songwriter hinges entirely on the show's setting, a boarding house in Dylan's hometown of Duluth, Minnesota. The result could be titled "Not So Grand Hotel" or "Really Hot L Duluth."

Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune: Far closer to Eugene O'Neill's "The Iceman Cometh" than "Mamma Mia!," the beguiling and beautiful new show at the Belasco Theatre is hardly a Bob Dylan jukebox musical. Sure, the score for "Girl From the North Country," an ensemble piece that showcases Mare Winningham in an extraordinarily intense and musically compelling performance, is comprised of more than 20 of the legendary protest-warbler's iconic compositions, ranging from "Slow Train" to "Like a Rolling Stone" and "All Along the Watchtower" to "Forever Young."

Alexis Soloski, The Guardian: Overstuffed, often hollow, and for all that, incontestably ravishing, Girl From the North Country, Conor McPherson's Depression-era gloss on Bob Dylan's back pages, makes its windblown way to Broadway. In 1934, in Duluth, Minnesota, a frostbitten piece of earth and Dylan's hometown, lost souls congregate in the parlor of a rundown guesthouse, hurtling toward foreclosure. They drink, they scrap, they fumble toward what they might call love. And sometimes, when the lonesome piano plinks, they lean into I Want You or Idiot Wind.

Peter Marks, Washington Post: An American trail ends at a Depression-era boardinghouse in Duluth, Minn., where a cross-section of desperate Midwesterners washes up. Foreclosure, bankruptcy, impoverishment and a god of false hopes are all beating down the door. Yet in "Girl From the North Country," the spiritually rousing musical that marked its official Broadway opening Thursday at the Belasco Theatre, these '30s horsemen of the apocalypse never get us down. Enveloped in the moving lyricism of Bob Dylan's songbook, the show is akin to a poem of uplift - an ode to fellowship forged in adversity. A roomful of gorgeous melodies performed on a landscape of diminishing returns.

Jesse Oxfeld, New York Stage Review: The genius of Girl From the North Country, which opened tonight at the Belasco Theatre, is that it treats Dylan's oeuvre, which forms the basis for the lovely, lyrical musical, not as hits to be played from a jukebox but as poetry that constructs a mythic, broken American landscape. The music sets a scene and tone; the story, original to the play and equally mythically American, unfolds within it.

Johnny Oleksinski, The New York Post: A series of unfortunate events has come to Broadway. No, not the Lemony Snicket novels, but "Girl From the North Country," a mashup of Bob Dylan songs and abject misery. The show, which opened Thursday night, is little more than a stack of vaguely depressed persons who take breaks from sad scenes to sing anguished and questionably relevant songs.

Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast: The first surprise is that Girl From the North Country, which marries the resonant, deeply felt playwriting of Conor McPherson and music and lyrics of Bob Dylan, doesn't major on Dylan's raw folkiness. You'd think it might. The play, opening Thursday night at Broadway's Belasco Theatre (booking to Sept. 27) and directed beautifully by McPherson, is a gorgeous, moving, thousand-times improved transfer uptown from the Public Theater. It is set in the threadbare, Depression-era year of 1934 in a boarding house in Duluth, Minnesota, full of characters variously luckless, desperate, loving, scamming, and scrabbling.

Roma Torre, NY1: To anyone questioning Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize in Literature four years ago, I suggest you get a ticket to Girl From the North Country. Irish playwright Conor McPherson crafted this uniquely intimate work, and whether you call it a jukebox musical, a play with music or simply a theatrical tone poem, it is a ravishingly performed ode to Dylan's own poetic lyricism.​

Helen Shaw, Vulture: McPherson's main dramaturgical problem here is magnitude. The size of the show is wrong, the size of the stories, the scenes, everything. It's simultaneously too long and too short-at times, so many people are getting introduced, it feels like a pilot episode, setting up the machinery for a ten-episode season. We know McPherson, when undistracted by songs, has one of the great senses of theatrical balance: He wrote plays like The Weir and The Night Alive, so perfect that they seem to continue on even after they're over, like a bicycle still wheeling along with the rider gone. That equilibrium abandons him in this, his first musical-he hasn't worked out how to get into songs gracefully, nor how to disguise that repetitive, get-to-the-next-number structure.

Greg Evans, Deadline: In case you hadn't noticed over the last five or six decades, Bob Dylan can't be contained, not by any particular genre, persona, creed or even voice, and the same can mostly be said for Girl From The North Country, the musical, written and directed by Conor McPherson, that transports the hits and deep-cuts of a peerless songbook to a Depression-era, crossroads-of-humanity boarding house. Opening tonight in a Broadway production that both focuses and somewhat constricts the musical that seemed more physically expansive, more tonally dreamlike, in its 2018 Off Broadway incarnation, Girl From The North Country nonetheless remains a revelation in its uncanny interpretations of even the most familiar Dylan songs.

Adam Feldman, Time Out New York: I was a bit less taken with the Broadway production at the lovely old Belasco Theatre. Winningham remains magnetic; the new cast members are strong, especially Sanders and Scott, and the singing is as beautiful as ever. (Bayardelle sends the audience out on a high note.) But I was more acutely aware this time of how thinly the story is stretched; the gloominess felt heavier, and the enigmatic nature of Dylan's lyrics-which often relate only obliquely to the action-kept me at a distance. There are shows, like places, that you want to revisit again and again. But the chill I admired in Girl from the North Country left me somewhat colder the second time around.

David Browne, Rolling Stone: To its credit, Girl From the North Country doesn't offer up a false, crowd-pleasing closer; it's as sober as the historical moment it depicts. (It's like Mamma Mia! on downers.) By the end of the show, the random encounters have left some characters broken and others uplifted; one of them dies. But like a Dylan show with strangely rearranged songs and a baffling set list, it leaves you both humming its songs and puzzling over what you just witnessed.

Marilyn Stasio, Variety: It's probably a lost cause trying to fit every chosen song into a plot-worthy moment in the show. It doesn't make dramatic sense that Elizabeth should be the soloist on "Like a Rolling Stone" and "Forever Young." But Winningham puts so much heart into both songs that she can leave you trembling. And she, more than anyone else in the cast, seems to understand that Dylan's narrative lyrics, mainly written in the 1960s and 70s, express a sense of existential detachment, a yearning for human connection that reflect the uncertainties of 1930s America.

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