Girl From The North Country – Hollywood Pantages Theater – May 15, 2024 – Hollywood, CA.

This is just a spectacular theater piece. It’s got a very tough story, but with the actors and the music of Bob Dylan, it just explodes with fiery passion and extreme talent. The cast’s amazing singing and acting really shined through. But don’t expect a Broadway-type song and dance musical, this one has deep-seated meaning that takes place in a boarding house in 1934, in the shores of Lake Superior, in Duluth Minnesota. It’s all about the Laine family during the Great Depression and their friends and acquaintances struggling financially, with illness, and other life events. The musical focuses on desperation and its effect on the human psyche and includes nearly 30 songs by Bob Dylan. The story follows the family as they try to save their property from foreclosure, and the wife, Elizabeth, struggles with dementia that causes her to become detached and then have outbursts that are difficult to manage. The story is narrated by Dr. Walker, a physician to the Laine family. Nick Laine is the proprietor of a rundown guesthouse. The bank is threatening to foreclose on the property, and he is desperate to find a way to save his family from homelessness. His wife, Elizabeth, is suffering from a form of dementia that propels her from catatonic detachment to childlike, uninhibited outbursts which are becoming difficult to manage. Their children are Gene, who is in his early twenties, and their adopted daughter, Marianne, who is nineteen.

Marianne is five months pregnant, and the father’s identity is a mystery she guards carefully. Nick is trying to arrange a marriage between Marianne and a local shoe mender, Mr. Perry, to secure her future. The social awkwardness is complicated because Marianne is a black girl living with a white family. She was abandoned in the guesthouse as a baby and brought up by Nick and Elizabeth. Gene is unable to get a grip on his life, and veers between ambitions of becoming a writer while having debilitating alcohol binges, a situation not helped when his sweetheart, Kate, announces she is marrying a man with better prospects.

Nick has become involved in a relationship with a resident of the guest house, Mrs. Neilsen, a widow who is waiting for her late husband’s will to clear probate. They dream of a better future when her money comes through, although she scolds Nick for his constant pessimism. Also, staying at the house is a family, the Burkes. Mr. Burke lost his business in the crash. His wife, Laura, and his son, Elias, share a room upstairs. Elias has a learning disability and the family struggles to come to terms with their vulnerable state. Late at night, during a storm, a self-styled reverend bible salesman, Marlowe, and a down-on-his-luck boxer, Joe Scott, arrive looking for shelter. The arrival of these characters is a catalyst, changing everything for everyone in the house.

Girl from the North Country  – book by Conor McPherson and songs with music and lyrics by Bob Dylan. It is the second show to use Dylan’s music after Twyla Tharp‘s The Times They Are a-Changin’. The production premiered at The Old Vic in London running in October of 2017, directed by McPherson. Following the success of The Old Vic production, it transferred into London’s West End at the Noël Coward Theatre in December for a limited 12-week run until March of 2018, with the majority of The Old Vic cast.

It made its Broadway premiere at the Belasco Theatre, beginning previews in February 2020. On May 16, 2022, it was announced that prior to re-opening, the Broadway production was filmed for a future public release. Producers Tristan Baker and Charlie Parsons remarked, “We feel that now was the right time to capture this incredible production … this was the right time with the right cast, and everything fell into place perfectly. This story is beautiful and deserves to be seen by audiences all over, even if they can’t make it to the theater,” while revealing that negotiations were underway to find a distributor.

Musical numbers include 28 songs by Bob Dylan that appear throughout the show. Each is backed by instruments from the 1930s. The Original London Cast Recording was made at Abbey Road in August 2017, and released by Silvertone/Sony Music on CD in September 2017and double vinyl in December 2017. The Original Broadway Cast Recording was made on March 9, 2020, at Reservoir Studios in Manhattan, and released by Legacy Recordings/Sony Music in August 2021.

Stand-out cast member, Jennifer Blood, playing Elizabeth Laine, had an incredible voice, with her physical comedy, she really steals the show. Ben Biggers as Gene Laine has a moody, lonely stance on stage at all times, but it’s his angelic voice that really captures everyone’s hearts. Sharae Moultrie plays Marianne Laine; the audience feels her. She is strong and vulnerable at the same time and has unsurpassed vocal chops, all making her a cast member to watch and cherish. All the other leads had their own essential gifts and talents to round out this terrific cast!

Music Numbers:

Act I

Act I

This is a show not to be missed since it’s an amazing story and includes Bob Dylan’s partial songbook. It makes you think about heartfelt chapters in people’s lives, and transports you to a time long ago, but not forgotten.

Hollywood Pantages Theater

6233 Hollywood Blvd,

Los Angeles, CA 90028

(323) 468-1700
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