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Bob Dylan Musical 'Girl From The North Country' Continues To Garner Praise
The task of trying to build a theatrical production around the sounds and ethos of Bob Dylan's illustrious catalogue and career has been attempted several times since the 1960s.
Archibald MacLeash was the first – the playwright tried to enlist a young Dylan to pen some Americana songs for his stage show Scratch – but creative differences sank that ship before it left the harbor. More recently, Broadway choreographer Twyla Tharp attempted to unite Dylan's music with contemporary ballet and interpretive dance for her 2006 production The Times They Are A-Changin'. Though the show set season ticket sales records during its opening run in San Diego the volume of negative reviews led the production to close after just a short few weeks' run.
Clearly, it's difficult to do a Bob Dylan-based theater production right.
It's all the more exciting then, that the Conor McPherson-penned musical Girl From the North Country seems to have captured lightning in a bottle where others have previously missed the mark.
The play taps several of Dylan's most well-known songs ("Like A Rolling Stone," I Want You"), as well as some of his deeper cuts ("True Love Tends To Forget," "License To Kill") for its musical catalogue. The play's writer, McPherson, who won two Tony awards in 2006 for his Broadway thriller Shining City, caught the attention of Sony Music and reps from Dylan's camp back in 2013, as they were shopping around for creatives to lead a Dylan-themed stage play.
"We didn't want something that dealt with Bob's life," said a rep for Dylan's camp. "By setting it before Bob was born, we could cut it loose from all associations with him and the Sixties," he adds by way of explaining their interest in McPherson's take.
Dylan himself gave the final nod of assent when McPherson's pitch was read to him backstage following one of Bob's 2013 appearances in London. Sources close to Dylan cited the key deciding factor as McPherson's focus on what Rolling Stone called, "a surreal, Coen brothers–style portrait of the old, weird America Dylan has long channeled."
Girl From the North Country has continued to draw positive reviews during its ongoing run at London's Old Vic Theater, and plans are being worked up to bring the show across the pond, potentially even to Broadway, in the near future.