Mare Winningham sings "Like a Rolling Stone" in the Dylan musical. (Photo by Sara Krulwich, New York Times)
He has sold more than 125 million records, won the Nobel Prize and created songs that will outlive us all. Now Duluth-born, Hibbing-bred balladeer Bob Dylan might finally go to Broadway.
“Girl From the North Country,” by Irish director and playwright Conor McPherson (“Shining City,” “The Weir”), uses about 20 of Dylan’s most famous songs — including “Like a Rolling Stone,” “Forever Young” and “Hurricane” — to tell a Duluth-based, Depression-era story of fugitive souls.
The show's title comes from a 1963 Dylan song said to have been inspired by his first serious girlfriend in Hibbing. It premiered at the Old Vic in London in July 2017 before transferring to London's West End.
Its American debut opened Monday at New York’s Public Theater, where “Hamilton” first bowed. Even before the reviews came out, the show was a hit.
“It has sold better than ‘Hamilton’ did at this stage,” said the Public's artistic director, Oskar Eustis, a Twin Cities native who was in his hometown last week for an event and to check out “Hamilton” at the Orpheum Theatre.
"North Country," which is scheduled to run through Dec. 23, will sell even better now that New York Times critic Ben Brantley has spoken.
The pull-quotes from Brantley’s review of “this ravishing production” could occupy multiple billboards:
“If you’re a hard-core Dylan fan, you’ve heard these songs before,” Brantley wrote. “But, for me at least, they’ve never sounded quite so heartbreakingly personal and universal at the same time.”
He called "Girl" "the most imaginative and inspired use to date of a popular composer’s songbook in this blighted era of the jukebox musical."
Watching the transcendent performers, “you may find yourself thinking that this is as close as mortals come to heaven on Earth.”
His wasn't the only celebratory review. But it's the one that matters.
“Girl” conquered the West End and now is the toast of off-Broadway.
Is Times Square next?