Shaftesbury Avenue, London
Public Previews: 10 December 2019
Opens: 16 December 2019
Closes: 1 February 2020
Buy tickets:Buy tickets online
Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Monday at 7.30pm
Tuesday at 7.30pm
Wednesday at 7.30pm
Thursday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Friday at 7.30pm
Saturday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Sunday no show
Note: Mon 16 Dec at 7.00pm only
Runs ? hours and ? minutes
£? to £?
(plus booking fees if applicable)
Conor McPherson's play Girl From the North Country in London - featuring classic songs by Bob Dylan
1934. Duluth, Minnesota in the midst of the Great Depression. A family adrift, their future on a knife edge. Lost and lonely people drifting through rooms of their guesthouse. But Nick Laine thinks he's seen a way out...
This acclaimed production returns to London's West End following it's Premiere at the Old Vic Theatre in 2017, and transfer to the Noel Coward Theatre in 2018.
The cast at the Gielgud Theatre features Katie Brayben as 'Elizabeth Laine', Donald Sage Mackay as 'Nick Laine', Anna-Jane Casey as 'Mrs Burke', and Rachel John as 'Mrs Neilsen', with Colin Bates as 'Gene Laine', David Ganly as 'Mr Burke', Steffan Harri as 'Elias Burke', Sidney Kean as 'Mr Perry', Finbar Lynch as 'Reverend Marlow', Gloria Obianyo as 'Marianne', Ferdy Roberts as 'Dr Walker', Gemma Sutton as 'Katherine Draper', and Shaq Taylor as 'Joe Scott', along with Daniel Bailey, Nicholle Cherrie, Simon Gordon, David Haydn, Wendy Somerville and Alan Vicary.
Directed by Conor McPherson with movement by Lucy Hind, designs by Rae Smith, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Simon Baker. Music and lyrics by Bob Dylan, arranged by Simon Hale. PLEASE NOTE that this production contains some moderate use of strong language and adult themes.
When this production opened at the Noel Coward Theatre in January 2018, Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times praised it as being "original, beautiful and moving, combining the starkness of Steinbeck with haunting lyricism to create something restless, desperate, hopeful and sad.... Beautifully orchestrated by Simon Hale, performed live by the cast and onstage musicians, the songs emerge fresh, sometimes almost unrecognisable and often exceptionally moving." Claire Allfree in the Daily Telegraph said that it's "not very often, a piece of theatre comes along that radiates an ineffable magic. Conor McPherson's musical play, which draws on heavily reworked versions of familiar and obscure Bob Dylan songs, is one such show.... Very special." Dominic Maxwell in the Times highlighted that in "this incredible Bob Dylan musical... the ensemble is outstanding. No weak links. Bob Dylan fans will find it fascinating and ingenious, nothing like the standard jukebox musical... Taking old ingredients as his starting point, Conor McPherson has come up with something bewitchingly original. It's pure stage magic." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard wrote that "Bob Dylan's songs may not be the stuff of a slick jukebox musical, but they have a rich sense of theatre, and twenty-one of them feature in Conor McPherson's play - a portrait of desire and desperation that premiered at the Old Vic last summer and now gets a well-deserved West End transfer." Patrick Marmion in the Daily Mail commented that, "I love Bob Dylan and I love the lyrical Irish playwright Conor McPherson, who is best known for his West End hit The Weir. But together in this soulful musical that has now moved from the Old Vic to the West End proper? I'm not so sure... it left me craving more Dylan and McPherson - independent of each other."
Donald Sage Mackay's West End stage credits include the role of 'Saul Kimmer' in Matthew Dunster's revival of Sam Shepard's True West at the Vaudeville in 2018.
Anna-Jane Casey's London stage credits include the role of 'Mavis' in Maria Friedman's revival of Richard Harris' comedy Stepping Out at the Vaudeville Theatre in 2017; the ensemble cast of Phillip George's production of Forbidden Broadway at the Vaudeville Theatre in 2014; 'Lady of the Lake' in Christopher Luscombe's 're-staged' version of the musical Monty Python's Spamalot at the Playhouse Theatre in 2012; the double role of 'Dot/Marie' in Sam Buntrock's revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical Sunday in the Park with George at the Menier Chocolate Factory in 2005; 'Anita' in the original cast of Alan Johnson's revival of the Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim musical West Side Story at the Prince Edward Theatre in 1998; 'Barbara-Lou' in the original cast of David Gilmore's revival of the Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey musical Grease at the Dominion Theatre in 1993; and the ensemble of the original cast of John Caird's production of the Stephen Schwartz musical Children of Eden at the Prince Edward Theatre in 1991.
Katie Brayben's West End theatre credits include the role of 'Sarah' in Scott Elliott's production of Jesse Eisenberg's comedy The Spoils at the Trafalgar Studios in 2016; 'Carole King' in the original cast of Marc Bruni's production of Douglas McGrath's musical Beautiful - The Carole King Musical at the Aldwych Theatre in 2015; and 'Princess Diana's Ghost' in Rupert Goold's production of Mike Bartlett's play King Charles III at the Wyndham's Theatre in 2014.
The original cast at the Old Vic Theatre (Previewed 12 July 2017, Opened 26 July 2017, Closed 7 October 2017) featured Ciaran Hinds as 'Nick Laine', Sheila Atim as 'Marianne Laine', Shirley Henderson as 'Elizabeth Laine', Sam Reid as 'Gene Laine', Jim Norton as 'Mr Perry', Ron Cook as 'Dr Walker', Stanley Townsend as 'Mr Burke', Bronagh Gallagher as 'Mrs Burke', Jack Shalloo as 'Elias Burke', Debbie Kurup as 'Mrs Neilsen', Claudia Jolly as 'Katherine Draper', Arinze Kene as 'Joe Scott', Michael Shaeffer as 'Reverend Marlowe', Kirsty Malpass, Tom Peters, and Karl Queensborough. Musicians: Alan Berry, Charlie Brown, Pete Callard, and Don Richardson.
When this production opened at the Old Vic Theatre in July 2017, Michael Billington in the Guardian explained that "it is the constant dialogue between the drama and the songs that makes this show exceptional... As director, McPherson has created an astonishingly free-flowing production and the 19-strong cast, which includes three musicians, is so uniformly strong it is tough to pick out individuals." Ann Treneman in the Times praised the production saying: "The result is an instant American classic: a tale of heartbreak and hardscrabble, poetic but not without fun... The songs emerge out of the dialogue, lyrics interweaving with scenes in uncanny ways. It is genius the way that McPherson has tapped into the American folk era of Woody Guthrie and hobos, something that inspired Dylan in his early freewheeling days." Paul Taylor in the i Newspaper thought that "rather than move the show forward, the songs open it up, conversing with the drama and amplifying the mood of Depression-era despair or hope, and providing the lift to transcendence... Two formidable artists have shown respect for the integrity of each other's work here and the result is magnificent." Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard described it as being "a fluid, slow-burn production unafraid to unfold to its own unhurried rhythms. It resembles nothing so much as a collection of meticulously rendered short stories, soaked in quiet melancholy... This is Dylan like we've never heard him before, 20 songs sculpted into plaintive but beautiful new arrangements by Simon Hale. Some numbers are familiar, others less so, but nearly all are delivered so hauntingly well by the company that they send shivers down the spine as we hear the lyrics afresh... Magnificent." Ian Shuttleworth in the Financial Times highlighted that "it's a determined ensemble piece with a stellar cast," adding that "it feels stagey and a little distant... the result is an intelligent, inventive production with no significant fault, but in the end no compelling connection either." Neil Norman in the Daily Express commented how "Bob Dylan's songs illuminate the action and the characters at various intervals. This is not a musical as such but a play with songs delivered directly to the audience, often around an old-fashioned microphone. It is a quaint device and it works beautifully... Dylan purists will probably disapprove but who cares? For all its rough edges, I loved it." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail wrote that "in a traditional musical, the songs help to develop the plot; here, they merely match the mood of the character involved... The important thing is you soak up the vibes and look for value in Dylan's music away from the man himself. It does not work all the time but the enterprise is bold and honourable." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph said that, "ingrate that I am, I confess to being a mite underwhelmed by this valiant and undeniably accomplished effort to do something more oblique with songs that will outlive us all. Conor McPherson has shepherded 20 tracks into a populous, ethereal play that combines the grit of the Great Depression with something numinous and mysterious."
The original cast at the Noel Coward Theatre (Previewed 29 December 2017, Opened 11 January 2018, Closed 24 March 2018) featured Ciaran Hinds as 'Nick Laine', Sheila Atim as 'Marianne Laine', Shirley Henderson as 'Elizabeth Laine', Sam Reid as 'Gene Laine', Karl Johnson as Mr Perry', Adam James as Dr Walker', David Ganly as 'Mr Burke', Bronagh Gallagher as 'Mrs Burke', Jack Shalloo as 'Elias Burke', Debbie Kurup as 'Mrs Neilsen', Claudia Jolly as 'Katherine Draper', Arinze Kene as 'Joe Scott', Finbar Lynch as 'Reverend Marlowe', Hannah Azuonye, Ross Dawes, Mary Doherty, and Emmanuel Kojo. Musicians: Alan Berry, Charlie Brown, Pete Callard, and Don Richardson.
"If you head to the West End transfer of this Old Vic production fearing it might be a sacrilegious mash-up of Bob Dylan's greatest hits, fear not. Conor McPherson's sublime play is the perfect accompaniment to Bob's freewheelin', rough-roundthe-edges songs, and just as full of raw, haunting emotion. Expect some gems, other lesser-known numbers, but all given beautifully haunting new arrangements. The stories, which all converge on a boarding house in Dylan's hometown of Duluth, Minnesota, during the Great Depression, ooze emotion, peppered as they are with down-on-their-luck characters from a crooked Bible salesman to an ex-con boxer. Standout performances come from Ciaran Hinds as landlord Nick, Shirley Henderson, who is tragic, funny and deeply moving as his wife Elizabeth, and their daughter, pregnant Marianne, a star turn from Sheila Atim. Unforgettable." The Sunday Mirror
"Bob Dylan's management gave the playwright Conor McPherson unrestricted use of his songbook, and the result is a play of constant sorrows... The narrative slopes undeviatingly downwards; Dylan's songs expand the emotional palette: direct and gnomic, raging and desiring. McPherson's staging, like a homey radio broadcast, clusters actors around mikes, accompanied by 1930s instruments. The oddballs and misfits are played by arresting performers who emerge as plangent singers. At the centre are Ciaran Hinds's Nick - tellingly, the only non-singer - grimly holding it together, and Shirley Henderson, astonishing as his spiky sprite of a wife, her every mewl and shimmy magnetic." The Sunday Times
"In short, you get the storytelling tradition of folk music married to a setting that evokes both John Steinbeck's Dust Bowl novels and perhaps a period film by the Coen brothers. The music really makes it. Dylan's great songs will have you singing into the back of your hand... Sheila Atim - as the pregnant Marianne - is the outstanding performer in a strong cast that includes regulars from Conor McPherson's previous plays... The drama of the songs fills up a hole where there should be more of a play. But all in all, the experiment is a triumph of pain, mood and tone. The songs are left blowing in the wind that you can feel cutting across The Old Vic's huge prairie of a stage. Certainly, Dylan fans have no choice but to grab tickets." The Mail on Sunday
"What an entrancing, not entirely successful, must-see show this is. Conor McPherson has constructed a musical play using 20 classic - and not so classic - tracks from across Bob Dylan's career. Each has been hauntingly rearranged by Simon Hale, sometimes almost beyond recognition. The effect, as dialogue and song bleed in and out of each other in a fluid, dream-like piece of theatre, is sublime.... McPherson's play can't escape its debt to other, greater American plays, and were you to strip away the music its shortcomings would be obvious. There is something slightly suspect, too, about abject poverty being presented with such deliberate beauty: I've never seen such a dementia sufferer look so lovely as Shirley Henderson's Elizabeth does. But these are minor quibbles in a free-flowing production in which Dylan's songs become their own ghost play. Many of the cast are outstanding singers. Henderson performs Forever Young with poignancy; Sheila Atim, who plays Marianne, delivers Tight Connection To My Heart as a folk lament thick with yearning. This show isn't always fully in focus but, when it is, It's wondrous." The Metro
Girl From the North Country in London at the Gielgud Theatre public previews from 10 December 2019, opens on 16 December 2019 and closes on 1 February 2020