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Bob Dylan Musical ‘Girl From The North Country’ Set For Broadway Run

The music of Bob Dylan is coming to Broadway yet again — but not in the way one might expect.

While previous efforts to plop Dylan’s music on the Great White Way include Twyla Tharp’s disastrous 2006 dance piece “The Times They Are a-Changin’” and Archibald MacLeish’s 1971 play, “Scratch,” for which the two poets met a partnership-ending creative impasse when Dylan’s original compositions were deemed “too light” by MacLeish, “Girl From the North Country” uses Dylan’s songbook as a springboard for an original story. The play, which will begin previews at the Belasco Theater in February of 2020, uses Duluth, Minnesota, the place of Dylan’s birth, as its setting. But the action takes place in 1934, seven years before the young Robert Zimmerman arrived on the scene.

“Girl From the North Country” had an Off-Broadway run at the Public Theater in 2018 following a life at London’s Old Vic the year before. Writing for the Forward, Seth Rogovoy marveled at how well the show’s Irish director and playwright, Conor McPherson, captured Dylan’s sensibility in his story of a boarding house owner struggling during the Great Depression.

“The play’s concerns are Dylan’s — race relations, economic inequality, criminality, messianism — and the characters are right out of his songs,” Rogovoy wrote.

The Times’ Ben Brantley hailed the play as “the most imaginative and inspired use to date of a popular composer’s songbook in this blighted era of the jukebox musical.”

Despite the praise, McPherson has been tinkering with his script throughout the various productions.

“This will be the fourth or fifth time I’ve had a go at it, and you always make changes,” he told The Times. “And every time I’ve done it, I’ve managed to slip another song in.”

While Dylan has no creative involvement with the show, he has offered McPherson the full use of his catalog.

PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture intern. He can be reached at [email protected].

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