“The Girl from the North Country” is back in the UK for its first major tour, and I had the opportunity to catch the show at Norwich Theatre Royal. This musical has received critical acclaim for its moving performances and use of Bob Dylan’s music, and if you’re considering seeing it, keep reading for my spoiler-free review. We’ll delve into the Depression-era boarding house story and explore what makes “The Girl from the North Country” such a powerful theatrical experience.
*We were invited to the press night to see the show so that we could share our experience with our readers.
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About The Girl from the North Country
“The Girl from the North Country” is a musical set in 1930s Minnesota during the Great Depression. It follows the lives of the inhabitants of a boarding house, each struggling with their own problems. The music and lyrics by Bob Dylan provide a haunting soundtrack that explores universal themes of love, loss, and hope in the face of adversity.
The Girl from the North Country” has been nominated and won several awards. At the 2018 Olivier Awards, it won Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical for Shirley Henderson, and Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for Jim Norton. These awards are a testament to the powerful storytelling, performances, and music that have resonated with audiences and critics alike.
It was recently announced that the musical will be adapted into a film, with a star-studded cast including Chlöe Bailey, Woody Harrelson, and Norfolk’s very own Olivia Colman. Conor McPherson, the talented playwright behind the original stage show, will also write and direct the upcoming film.
If you would like to read the play, you can find it here. Alternatively, you can listen to the original London cast recording of the songs here.
Review of The Girl From the North Country at Norwich Theatre Royal
“The Girl from the North Country” may not be a feel-good musical, but it is an emotional and honest story that will resonate with anyone who has experienced struggles in life. The show deals with a range of difficult subjects, including dementia, learning disability, racism, infidelity, teen pregnancy, and alcoholism. While the setting is the Great Depression, the issues faced by the characters are timeless, just like the music of Bob Dylan.
Despite the heavy subject matter, “The Girl from the North Country” has its laughs and funny moments. The musical strikes a balance between heart-wrenching and entertaining, making for a captivating and emotional experience.
The musical’s strength lies in its diverse characters. The story follows the interconnected lives of a group of wayward souls living in a Minnesota boarding house, each with their own battles to fight. The narrator helps fill in gaps and keep the story moving, so there is always something happening, and it’s never boring.
The choreography is executed with precision and flawlessly woven into the show to help convey the story and smoothly transition between scenes. Unlike in other musicals, there are no grandiose dance numbers, but the choreography instead complements the emotional depth of each moment. Every step and movement is thoughtfully crafted to elevate the characters’ struggles and feelings.
Frances McNamee‘s performance as Elizabeth Laine, a woman struggling with dementia, is nothing short of extraordinary. McNamee completely immerses herself in the role, delivering a moving and authentic portrayal that is both heart-breaking and convincing. Her powerful vocals and animated dancing perfectly complement her nuanced and realistic portrayal of a woman grappling with the debilitating effects of dementia.
The rest of the cast is amazing too, doing justice to the powerful soundtrack and story. “The Girl from the North Country” received a well-deserved standing ovation at the end, and it’s no wonder why. This musical is a masterpiece that tells an emotional, honest, and timeless story that will stay with you long after you leave the theatre.
The Girl From the North Country FAQs
Tickets range from £10 – £48.50. Check availability here.
It is recommended for ages 12 and up as it deals with some difficult subjects. If you need more family-friendly ideas, check out our list of things to do in Norwich with kids.
The show runs 2 hours and 30 minutes including a 20 minute interval.
You can have a pre-show meal in the Prelude Restaurant. Before the show and during the interval, snacks and drinks can be purchased at Cafe Royal or the Circle or Stalls Bar. We recommend ordering your interval drinks at the bar before the show starts.
Norwich Theatre Royal is easy to get to as it is located on Theatre Street (next to the Assembly House) in the Norwich city centre. It’s about a 7 minute walk from the Norwich Bus Station or a 20 minute walk from the Norwich Train Station.
You could use any car park in Norwich city centre, but The Forum and Chantry car parks are the closest ones to Norwich Theatre Royal. Alternatively, you could use the Park & Ride as it’s a short walk from the Norwich Bus Station.
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