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Girl From The North Country comes to Melbourne

An evocative musical pairing 19 legendary Bob Dylan tunes with the brilliance of Irish writer Conor McPherson.


Photo of the cast performing - credit Daniel Boud.

Let’s consider the reasons critics are swooning and standing ovations keep coming for Girl from the North Country, an evocative musical pairing 19 legendary Bob Dylan tunes with the brilliance of Irish writer Conor McPherson.

The show, set in 1930’s America, tells the tale of those living through the Great Depression in a rundown guesthouse in Minnesota. All have intriguing, complicated stories but the arrival of a bible salesman and a down-on-his-luck boxer changes everything.

McPherson had the freedom to choose from Dylan’s entire catalogue while writing the original work, so you hear such classics as Like a Rolling Stone and Hurricane. Opening on the West End in 2017, followed by a Broadway premiere three years later, it has made its way to Sydney before a national tour including Adelaide and Melbourne.

All the stars

Stellar casting is pivotal to a successful show, with the Australian cast a perfect case in point. The revered star of stage and small screen Lisa McCune (King and I, South Pacific) reveals her fervour for the show: “It’s rich in heart and song, and it’s a privilege to be sharing this magical experience with audiences. It’s a tonic for the times.”

Other performers include Greg Stone (Oklahoma!, Underbelly, Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries), Helen Dallimore (Muriel’s Wedding the Musical, Legally Blonde) and Zahra Newman (Wentworth, The Book of Mormon).

The clever set design keeps you enthralled, as furniture is rearranged to create different locations within the guesthouse. Then there’s the local bar, where the music and dancing happens. While the direction of Conor McPherson is flawless, guiding you to empathise with the characters, as their stories unfold.

A very special piece of theatre

Glowing reviews, encapsulating the energy, passion, brilliance and grit of the show, can’t be ignored. Variety said, “When people sing, it’s as if they pop the bonnets of their brains and let us look inside.” The Sunday Express called it a “tribute and a triumph”. And from the Evening Standard - “exquisitely heartbreaking, a very special piece of theatre.”

Even Dylan was moved by Girl from the North Country telling The New York Times he was brought to tears when he experienced it, feeling both “stunned and affected” by the musical.

Seniors Card holders can get a $20 discount on A & B reserve tickets – visit the Discount Directory for more information or go to the Girl From the North Country website to purchase tickets via Ticketek. Select ‘Concession’ when purchasing. Available for performances Sunday-Thursday. Please have your card with you when you go to the show.

Reviewed 27 December 2022