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The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News



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‘Girl from the North Country’ sports Bob Dylan hits, societal commentary

Sharaé Moultrie sings. “Girl from the North Country” followed Moultire as she navigates being a unmarried, pregnant, Black teenager in a white family during the Great Depression. Photo courtesy Evan Zimmerman, Emerson Colonial Theatre.

Broadway in Boston welcomed the Tony-award-winning musical “Girl from the North Country” from March 12 to 24 at the Emerson Colonial Theatre. Filled with musical numbers containing Bob Dylan songs, many attendees were fans excited to hear tracks like “I Want You” and “Is Your Love in Vain?” brought to life on stage. 

Set in Duluth, Minnesota during the Great Depression, “Girl from the North Country” showcased a group of very different people living in the Laine family guesthouse. The patriarch of the house, Nick Laine (John Schiappa), rents out rooms to make a living but has fallen on hard times. His wife, Elizabeth (Jennifer Blood), suffers from worsening dementia and his son, Gene (Ben Biggers), is a raging alcoholic. Meanwhile, their adopted daughter, Marianne (Sharaé Moultrie), is pregnant and receives no support from the baby’s father. As a result, Nick unsuccessfully attempts to marry Marianne to an elderly shoe mender, Mr. Perry (Jay Russell), so she can better conform with society. 

Ben Biggers, Moultrie, Jennifer Blood and John Schiappa sit at a table. The Laine family faced various issues throughout “Girl from the North Country.” Photo courtesy Evan Zimmerman, Emerson Colonial Theatre.

Marianne’s storyline is one that many audience members were invested in. As an unmarried, pregnant Black teenager in a white family, she faces a large social stigma that her father tries to hide from society. She has multiple solos throughout the musical, and her emotional performances tugged on the audience’s heartstrings. 

“She’s an exceptional singer. I’m interested in her storyline,” said attendee Lori Chesloff, who came with her daughter, Sadie Chesloff. 

Another attendee, Kim Briones, also said Marianne was her favorite character of the show. 

“I’m hoping things work out for Marianne,” she said. 

However, Marianne’s ending is not necessarily conclusive, as the rest of the show’s storylines are. Open to interpretation, she decides to seek a better life and leaves the guesthouse, where she had been living with Joe Scott (Matt Manuel), another guest. 

A major component of “Girl from the North Country” was the live music. Before the show began, there were a wide array of instruments laid out on the stage, including a cello, violin, drums and piano. Actors played both their role and an instrument on stage, and audience members were receptive.

“I really like it when sets have instruments on the stage, so I think that’s pretty perfect,” Sadie Chesloff said. 

Attracted by a set list containing exclusively Bob Dylan music, the mother-daughter Chelsoff duo felt the show did his songs justice. Additionally, they have a Broadway in Boston subscription, just like Briones, allowing them to attend multiple shows at a bundled cost. 

Chiara Trentalange sings as other cast members clap and play instruments. The “Girl from the North Country” setlist contained exclusively music by Bob Dylan. Photo courtesy Evan Zimmerman, Emerson Colonial Theatre.

“The music is kind of the best part of the show,” Lori Chesloff said. “There’s some outstanding singers in the cast and we like what they’ve done with some songs.”

Sean Arnold, an attendee, said that he normally goes for more traditional musicals, such as “Chicago,” “Wicked” and “Moulin Rouge,” but found himself enjoying “Girl from the North Country.”

“Truthfully, Bob Dylan is not my preferred genre of music,” Arnold said. “In the end, the music was my favorite part.”  

On the other hand, Briones had mixed feelings and said she liked some songs, but not others. She felt that the musical was a stark wake-up call in regards to today’s realities and referred to the character Joe Scotts’s wrongful incarceration.

“I’m depressed about the societal issues of the time — the poverty, the racial issues,” Briones said. “[The show contained] old themes, yet it’s still happening. That’s really depressing.” 

Despite the show’s mature content and complex themes, Arnold appreciated how the show’s diverse characters, though incredibly different from each other, were still able to form meaningful connections with one another in an incredibly hard time. 

“Honestly I had my doubts, but was pleasantly surprised when I was presented with a heartfelt and powerful story of the embodiment of a group of misfits in the 1930s,” he said.

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