“Girl From The North Country” is a rugged body of work, much like the songwriter himself, Bob Dylan. Straight out of a Dylan song, this play attempts to show us the lives of many people, most of whom are full of despair and desperation. With some fine acting and a good story line, throw in Bob Dylan’s songs and what should have been a winner ended up in the fair to midland range.
The big problem with this play was the acting, aside from three to four really good actors, many were not passionate nor very believable. The audience had to work harder then necessary to figure out who was who and what they were trying to put forth to us. The inter- racial cast added to the confusion of trying to seperate the cast into the family or group that the cast belonged to. Another major problem with the show was Simon Hale’s choices of songs. As Orchestrator, Arranger & Musical Supervisor, his choices of songs were not really that great. Dylan’s” Hurricane” was the biggest mind boggler of all, what does Paterson, New Jersey have to do with the hills of Minnesota? “I want You” was another one where I began to think that they were trying to have a mini Dylan concert with a show on the side.
The Costumes and Lighting were well done for this musical.Rae Smith did an admirable job in making us feel like we were in this depression era musical. Dressed for the elements, The Doc and Mr. Perry were very believable in what they wore as were Mrs. Burke and Reverend Marlowe. I thoroughly enjoyed the Costumes at this performance. Mark Hendersons Lighting went from romantic to at time glam and all very effective. He too made this show realistic of the times before us.
In what were some real good performances, the ones that most stand out were Robert Joy as Dr. Walker, Sydney James Harcourt as Joe Scott and Mark Kudisch as Mr.Burke. All three were exceptional in there performances, strong throughout the show. Dr Walker was an easy going man who saw all, said little and went about his business. Mr. Burke was the hard ridden, hard luck person who tried his best under the circumstances. Faced with a wife who wants more and a son who is mentally challenged, he plods forward to try to get back what he has lost at the hands of the great depression.
Together, nothing blends well in this musical. The song choices are awful for the most part. The actors seem to be uninspired by the Direction of this musical. The Public seemed to really miss a great opportunity here. What could have been one of the best their this year, turned out to be so-so.