|A Doll's Life|
Original Cast Recording
|Lyrics||Betty Comden and Adolph Green|
|Book||Betty Comden and Adolph Green|
|Basis||A rehearsal of Henrik Ibsen's classic play A Doll's House|
The musical tells a speculative story of what happened to Nora, the lead character of Henrik Ibsen's 1879 play A Doll's House, after she left her husband and her old life behind to face the world on her own; in doing so, it examines several aspects of feminism and the ways in which women are treated.
A Doll's Life opened on Broadway at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on September 23, 1982, in a production directed by Hal Prince and starring Betsy Joslyn, George Hearn and Peter Gallagher. It closed three days later, after a run of 18 previews and 5 performances.
Set within the framework of a contemporary rehearsal of Henrik Ibsen's classic play A Doll's House, it addresses the question of what might have transpired after Nora slammed the door and abandoned her tyrannical husband Torvald. Borrowing the fare from a young violinist, Otto, she takes the train to Christiania, where she accepts work in a cafe and soon becomes involved not only with Otto, but Eric Didrickson, the wealthy owner of shipping lines and fish canneries, and Johan Blecker, a lawyer, as well. Throughout the show, scenes in her new life mingle with intermittent flashbacks to the one she left behind.
The Broadway production opened on September 23, 1982, at the Mark Hellinger Theatre. Directed by Hal Prince, the show featured scenic design by Timothy O'Brien and Tazeena Firth, costume design by Florence Klotz, lighting design by Ken Billington. and choreography by Larry Fuller. The cast featured Betsy Joslyn, George Hearn and Peter Gallagher.
Frank Rich of the New York Times wrote that "three legendary Broadway hands - Harold Prince, Betty Comden and Adolph Green - have inflated a spectacularly unpromising premise with loads of money, good intentions and hard work, only to end up with a show that collapses in its prologue and then skids into a toboggan slide from which there is no return." He wrote of Prince's direction that "remarkably, there isn't a single idea in the staging that he hasn't done before - and better"; he criticized the character of Nora as being "merely a symbol: The Unliberated Female", and wrote that the show's heavily flawed dramaturgy "can't muster what should be a foolproof case" for its supposed revelations about feminism that "at this late date [...] are facts of life[.]" In a later piece for the Times, Rich wrote that the show was "merely pretentious," and that "to write a show in 1982 that espouses a primer-like feminist credo - as if feminism had only entered the public mind yesterday - seems, in its own way, a form of escapism (and not even an entertaining form at that)."
Despite its failure, the show received several Tony Award nominations, and an original cast recording was released on the Bay Cities label.
Broadway wags dubbed the show "A Doll's Death." One even suggested "A Door's Life," in reference to the portal out of which Nora slams at the end of the original Ibsen play, and which 'danced' almost continually throughout the musical, far more interestingly than most of the rest of the action.
Awards and nominations
Original Broadway production
|1983||Tony Award||Best Book of a Musical||Adolph Green and Betty Comden||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||Larry Grossman, Adolph Green, and Betty Comden||Nominated|
|Best Actor in a Musical||George Hearn||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Music||Larry Grossman||Nominated|
|Theatre World Award||Peter Gallagher||Won|
- Canby, Vincent. " A Doll's Life, New Look at Hypothetical Future of Ibsen's Nora", The New York Times, December 22, 1994
- A Doll's Life Internet Off-Broadway Database, accessed September 3, 2019
- Rich, Frank (1982-09-24). "Theater: 'A Doll's Life,' Musical Sequel to Ibsen". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-09-04.
- Rich, Frank (1982-11-14). "Stage View; What Ails Today's Broadway Musical?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-09-04.
- Kenrick, John."'A Doll's Life' - Bay Cities musicals101.com, accessed February 11, 2010