After Conor McPherson gained critical acclaim for his play The Weir, he is currently premiering a new play about a family in Minnesota in 1934, during The Great Depression at the Old Vic. The play interweaves music from the back catalogue of Bob Dylan and defies the term “jukebox musical” where most shows form a story from the music, the music only enhances the story in Girl From The North Country’s case. Most of the songs I didn’t know but I can safely say the popular ones like Make You Feel My Love and Forever Young are part of this show.
The play takes place in a guesthouse owned by Nick Laine as he had to take care of his ill wife Elizabeth and his daughter Marianne, a black girl who they have raised since birth, who is pregnant and unmarried. Their guesthouse is visited by two strangers looking for a place to stay, when things begin to spiral out of control and the characters begin to wonder what makes a place a home.
The cast is led by Ciarán Hinds as Nick Laine, but the real stars of the show are Sheila Atim as Marianne and Shirley Henderson as Elizabeth. Both actresses perform with such warmth and fire in their hearts. Sheila Atim’s performance of Tight Connection To My Heart is absolutely stunning and I can’t wait to listen to it over and over again when the cast album is released. Debbie Kurup is another standout as Mrs Neilsen with her incredible vocals.
What I didn’t expect was some of the actors were not only part of the acting ensemble but they were part of the band too. The band only play on instruments that people used to play in the 1930s, which I thought made the music feel more authentic to the time period. Ron Cook plays Dr Walker who sometimes plays the role of the narrator in the piece as if he was a voice over in a western film at times, which only added to the authenticity of the piece.
Overall, I pleasantly enjoyed Girl From The North Country. Even though the running time is 2hours 50 minutes, the time flew by as the show never stops moving. It’s a gorgeous new musical absolutely worth checking out. And be sure to check out the original cast recording when it is released September 29th!
Girl From The North Country is running at the Old Vic Theatre until 7th October. For tickets and more information please visit https://www.oldvictheatre.com/whats-on/2017/girl-north-country-3.
Until next time,