A new musical featuring the songs of Bob Dylan is coming Toronto's way. And while Conor McPherson's Girl From the North Country uses 19 of the great songwriter's compositions, it is no jukebox musical – more like deep-cut Dylan.
Mirvish Productions has announced that Girl From the North Country will be one of six musicals making up its seven-show main subscription package for the 2018-19 season. Set in Duluth, Minn., Girl From the North Country uses the Dylan songbook to help carry a narrated story about hope and heartbreak at the height of the Depression. Songs such as Sign on the Window, Went to See the Gypsy, Idiot Wind and Duquesne Whistle are sung by cast members, backed by musicians using period instruments.
The show made its world premiere at London's Old Vic last summer. Following its current run in London's West End, Girl From the North Country makes its North American premiere at Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre in February, 2019.
If the Dylan musical doesn't rely on well-remembered classics, Ain't Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations absolutely does. The Des McAnuff-helmed jukebox musical features a book by Kennedy Prize-winning playwright Dominique Morisseau and choreography by Olivier Award winner Sergio Trujillo. On the strength of finger-snapping classics My Girl, Just My Imagination and Papa Was a Rolling Stone and others, Ain't Too Proud broke box office records upon its world premiere last fall at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in California.
The musical stops in at the Princess of Wales Theatre this fall on its way to Broadway.
As previously announced, the Broadway blockbuster Dear Evan Hansen will have its first international staging, beginning in March of next year, at the Royal Alexandra Theatre. The show captured the Tony Award for Best Musical last spring, beating out the made-in-Canada Come From Away, which is currently receiving fat-handed applause from critics and audiences alike at the Royal Alex.
The other main-season musicals include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, based on Roald Dahl's 1964 children's novel of the same name. Tickets, golden or otherwise, will go quickly for the high-caloric Broadway show making its Canadian premiere.
Also playing to Canadian audiences for the first time are School of Rock – The Musical (based on the Jack Black-starring film and with an original score from Andrew Lloyd Webber) and Waitress, an uplifting Broadway songfest featuring original music and lyrics by singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles.
The lone non-melodic production in the subscription season is The Play That Goes Wrong, a Broadway comedy with Sherlock Holmes mayhem and Monty Python madcappery.
The three shows in the Off-Mirvish season include J.T. Rogers's Oslo, a Tony Award-winning 2017 drama about a peace accord; a new production of the Pulitizer Prize-winning rock musical Next to Normal; and A Doll's House, Part 2, a co-production with the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre.
Of Mirvish's six "bonus" shows, one is new: Réversible, from the Quebec circus collective the 7 Fingers.
Rounding out the season are productions with which Toronto audiences are acquainted: The Phantom of the Opera, Motown: the Musical, Potted Potter, Wicked and, here we go again, Mamma Mia!, featuring the songs of Sweden's best export since meatballs, the hit-making seventies pop quartet ABBA.