A Doll's Life

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A Doll's Life
Original Cast Recording
Music Larry Grossman
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
Productions 1982 Broadway

A Doll's Life is a musical with a book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green and music by Larry Grossman. It is among the most notorious flops in Broadway theatre history.

The musical is set at a rehearsal of Ibsen's A Doll's House in 1982.


The Broadway production opened at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on September 23, 1982 and closed on September 26 after 5 performances and 18 previews. Directed by Hal Prince and choreographed by Larry Fuller with scenic design by Timothy O'Brien and Tazeena Firth, costume design by Florence Klotz, and lighting design by Ken Billington. The cast featured George Hearn, Betsy Joslyn, and Peter Gallagher.

The York Theater Company, New York City, presented a staged concert in December 1994.[1]

Critical response[edit]

Reviews were negative. According to The New York Times, "It was overproduced and overpopulated to the extent that the tiny resolute figure of Nora became lost in the combined mechanics of Broadway and the Industrial Revolution."[1] According to John Kenrick, the musical had "an almost operatic score, but the book droned on about the unfairness of life and an overly-elaborate Hal Prince production only made matters worse."[2]

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.


A Doll's Life The Musical.
Production Poster.

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.


Awards and nominations[edit]

  • Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical (nominee)
  • Tony Award for Best Original Score (nominee)
  • Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical (Hearn, nominee)
  • Theatre World Award (Gallagher, winner)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music (nominee)


  1. ^ a b Canby, Vincent." 'A Doll's Life", New Look at Hypothetical Future of Ibsen's Nora",The New York Times, December 22, 1994
  2. ^ Kenrick, John."'A Doll's Life' - Bay Cities musicals101.com, accessed February 11, 2010

External links[edit]