Shows D

A DOLL'S LIFE A Musical in 2 Acts, 16 Scenes. Book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Music by Larry Grossman. (Conceived as a response to the play A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen). Opened Mark Hellinger Theatre, New York - 23 September 1982: closed 26 September 1982 (5 perfs) STORY Act I A rehearsal of the lost scene of the Ibsen play. The Actor-Director points out to the actress playing Nora that she must put herself in the place of a woman in 1879 knowing only what she could have known then. After she slams the door, there is a burst of music strange lighting and four dance figures enter: a man and three phases of a woman's life - young, in her prime and old. They appear from time to time during the show. The door disappears revealing Nora in 1879 costume, transported back to that time. She sings of her determination to find out about the world and to leave behind the "bag of tricks" she has had to use to get along as a woman. All through the show, the Actors, who also play many different parts in the story, appear to comment on her actions. Alone and without money, Nora meets a young violinist, Otto - who assumes she is "that kind of woman" - and is forced to fall back on her flirting and lying in order to get money for the fare (which he gives her). Disappointed in herself and frightened, she arrives in Christiania where she finally gets a menial job in a cafe. Nora writes to her children to try to explain to them why she had to leave, and that she will come back and teach them all she has learned. At Cafe Europa, four well-dressed men are celebrating NewYear's Eve, putting off going home to their wives: Dr. Berg, Gustafson, and two others who will feature strongly in Nora's life - Eric Didrickson, wealthy owner of shipping lines and fish canneries, and Johan Blecker, a lawyer and an enlightened man for his or any time. They are drunk and singing. During this, Nora, as a scullery maid, sees Johan in the midst of the men's childish drinking ritual, on his knees, hands tied behind his back. Later, he stays to talk to her further, intrigued by her questioning the men about the law and other subjects, finding her unusual and interesting. Otto, the young violinist from the train, is working at the café and tries to talk to Nora again, but Hamsun, the owner, sends him off and unsubtly propositions Nora. When she refuses, she loses her job. Otto is waiting for her outside on the street. He is friendly and sympathetic and says he will try to get her a job backstage at the opera. He invites her to his rooming house for a holiday drink, assuring her that all will be proper as they will visit in the downstairs parlour. Nora, agitated at seeing o child and his parents celebrating New Years Eve in the parlour comes up to Otto's room. They shyly toast each other (she has a vision of Torvald, when they were first married, being charming and full of love in a New Years toast). Otto tells her he is a composer working on an epic folklore opera to make Wagner shake in his slippers: "Loki and Boldur." Nora is moved by the idea of the young, idealistic artist who finds it "such a burden being a man." She has another memory of Torvald, the middle-class tyrant patronising his "doll-wife" and condescendingly doling out household money. Otto brings her bock to the moment andasks her to stay with him. Feeling that he is a different kind of man, offering her "equal partnership in life." she agrees to stay and is soon working backstage at the opera house in the wardrobe department. She describes Otto's opera to the star. Astrid Klemnacht. who summarily sends her out. In the corridor. Nora runs into Johan Blecker who remembers her from New Year's Eve at the café. He tells her he will speak to Madame Klemnacht about "Loki and Boldur." Astrid has assembled a group of people, including Johan and Eric Didrickson (her lover), to hear the opera. She is irritable, but by the time the audition is over (Otto, carried away, has sung part of the soprano role) she