Everything you need to know about 'Girl From the North Country' on Broadway at the Belasco Theatre

The Bob Dylan jukebox musical finally opens on Broadway.

Todd Almond and the Cast of Girl From The North Country

In the summer of 2017, Conor McPherson’s masterpiece Girl From the North Country received its world premiere at The Old Vic in London. It's almost 4,000 miles away from the show’s setting of Duluth, Minnesota, where Bob Dylan grew up. Bob Dylan's greatest hits are uniquely showcased in this production which is now officially open at the Belasco Theatre on Broadway. The gently devastating masterpiece has been captivating Bob Dylan aficionados and keen theatregoers alike there since February 7, 2020.

Get Girl From the North Country tickets now.


Colton Ryan, Kimber Elayne Sprawl, Mare Winningham & Jay O. Sanders

What is Girl From the North Country about?

Perhaps better described as “a play with music” rather than your typical jukebox musical, Girl from the North Country is set in 1934 in the midst of the Great Depression in Duluth, Minnesota. The story takes place in a guesthouse inhabited by a collection of wayward souls, some passing and some permanent. At the centre of the piece we meet the down-on-his-luck guesthouse proprietor Nick Laine, his wife Elizabeth (riddled with a form of dementia), his alcohol-soaked son Gene, and his 19-year-old, adopted, Black daughter Marianne, who is also pregnant.

The Depression has taken its toll on those that dwell in the guesthouse and desperate times call for desperate measures. Nick tries to strike a deal with a much older citizen of Duluth, Mr. Perry, to marry off his adopted daughter, while he struggles with Elizabeth’s condition and Gene’s inability to find a job and earn a living. The supporting cast of characters includes a formerly incarcerated boxer striving to get back on his feet and make a comeback, a suspicious Bible-peddling reverend, the Burke family and their feeble-minded son, and the widow Mrs. Neilsen, Nick’s not-so-secret lover. Each of these colorful personalities is in search of their own way out of this real-life purgatory, by any means necessary. 

When did Girl From the North Country premiere?

Girl From the North Country first premiered at The Old Vic in London in July 2017, going on to another run at the Noël Coward Theatre in London's West End. The show then made its North American premiere at The Public Theater in 2019 before the Broadway premiere in 2020. The production had been playing for just over a month when the pandemic shuttered theatres, and Girl From the North Country reopened in October 2021.

Who wrote Girl From the North Country?

Conor McPherson wrote the book for Girl From the North Country, and all the songs are from Bob Dylan's repertoire.

What theatre in New York is Girl From the North Country playing at?

Girl From the North Country is at the Belasco Theatre.

What is the running time of Girl From the North Country?

Girl From the North Country is 2 hours and 30 minutes, including one intermission.


Mare Winningham

Who was in the original cast of Girl From the North Country on Broadway? 

Mare Winningham played Elizabeth Laine, with Jay O. Sanders as Nick Laine and Jeanette Bayardelle as Mrs. Neilsen. Discover more about Jeanette Bayardelle in Girl From the North Country here.

Austin Scott played Joe Scott, with Kimber Elayne Sprawl as Marianne. But despite these standouts, Girl from the North Country is truly an ensemble piece that relies on the emotional and spiritual connection of its cast members, completed by Todd Almond, Caitlin Houlahan, Robert Joy, Marc Kudisch, Luba Mason, Matt McGrath, ​Tom Nelis, and Colton Ryan. The entire cast returned with the production in 2021.

What songs are in Girl From the North Country?

Girl From the North Country features 19 of Bob Dylan's songs. Simon Hale has rearranged them all for the Broadway production, with many of them transformed into group numbers. During the live Broadway show, all the songs are played on authentic instruments from the 1930s, fitting with the time period when the musical is set. Here are all the songs in Girl From the North Country:

  • "Sign on the Window"
  • "Went to See the Gypsy"
  • "Tight Connection to My Heart (Has Anybody Seen My Love)"
  • "Slow Train"
  • "License to Kill"
  • "I Want You"
  • "Like a Rolling Stone"
  • "Make You Feel My Love"
  • "You Ain't Going Nowhere"
  • "Jokerman"
  • "Sweetheart Like You"
  • "True Love Tends to Forget"
  • "Girl from the North Country"
  • "Hurricane"
  • "Idiot Wind"
  • "Duquesne Whistle"
  • "Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)"
  • "Is Your Love in Vain?"
  • "Forever Young"

 


The Cast of Girl from the North Country

What did the reviews of Girl From the North Country say?

In a review of Girl From the North Country for New York Theatre Guide, "It’s clear that Girl just doesn’t wanna have fun. It digs deeper and gets darker and is very affecting. By the conclusion, thanks to the story of one young couple, there’s just enough light for a glimmer of hope. The end is a beginning."

The New York Times's review praised the unconventional use of Dylan's music as compared to most jukebox musicals: "McPherson dares to present music as belonging to a parallel universe, a realm that abuts the dreary reality of the play’s here and now but never overlaps it. When the superb ensemble sings — tenderly, angrily and often ravishingly — it seems to come from a place their characters could never identify in their conscious minds, but which is essential to their survival." 

Why should I see Girl From the North Country on Broadway?

Unlike some of the jukebox musicals of the modern era that lyrically shoehorn well-established songs into an original narrative, writer and director Conor McPherson uses Bob Dylan’s songs primarily to enhance the atmosphere on stage or as musical interludes. There is no desperate necessity to force songs in as a device to somehow vaguely further the narrative. He also uses the periodically clunky theatrical device of a narrator to great effect by using a supporting character (Dr. Walker) to break the fourth wall and guide us through the plethora of personalities onstage, lest we become lost in the web of story arcs.

The wealth of actor-musicians on stage is astounding, all playing typical instruments from the 1930s and organically coming together in seemingly spontaneous jam sessions that make you believe all of Dylan’s hits were written during that period. And speaking of the hits, be prepared for plenty of renditions of Dylan classics from “Slow Train” to “Like a Rolling Stone,” from “Hurricane” to “Idiot Wind,” and from the titular song to “Forever Young.”  

McPherson’s Depression-era story has just enough glimmers of hope within it to ensure the piece isn’t too, well, depressing. The emotionally impactful moments of the musical are heightened by Simon Hale’s poignant orchestrations and arrangements, and it’s these moments that provide perhaps the main takeaways of Girl from the North Country


Austin Scott

Who would we recommend Girl From the North Country to?

Bob Dylan fans that have yet to experience these beautiful new takes on their idol’s greatest hits will surely not be disappointed, along with anyone who likes classic folk music. But for theatregoers who are unfamiliar with the icon’s back catalogue, we’d recommend Girl from the North Country to anyone who has enjoyed Broadway classics the likes of The Iceman Cometh and Long Day’s Journey into Night by Eugene O’Neill, Death of a Salesman and A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller, or A Streetcar Named Desire and The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. If you enjoy a drama, you'll love Girl From the North Country. 


The Cast of Girl from the North Country

How do I get tickets for Girl from the North Country on Broadway?

Get tickets for Girl from the North Country on New York Theatre Guide.

 

(Photos by Matthew Murphy)