Everything you need to know about 'A Doll's House' on Broadway, starring Jessica Chastain

The Oscar-winning actress returns to New York to tackle an iconic role.

Gillian Russo
Gillian Russo

The Hudson Theatre is a dollhouse come spring, when Henrik Ibsen's groundbreaking play A Doll’s House gets its latest Broadway revival starring Academy Award winner Jessica Chastain. Directed by Jamie Lloyd (Cyrano de Bergerac), this revival puts a fresh spin on the century-old tale with a new, adapted script by Pulitzer Prize finalist Amy Herzog.

Even as is, though, the story of a housewife who seeks to build a life beyond her stifling marriage remains inspiring and empowering. Learn about the play's history of productions, celebrity stars, adaptations, and more below before catching A Doll's House on Broadway from February 13 to June 4.

What is A Doll’s House about?

A Doll’s House is set in 19th-century Norway and follows Nora Helmer, the wife of a bank manager and mother of three children. Her life seems perfect, but there's trouble hiding behind the facade. For one, she is keeping a financial secret from her husband that threatens to ruin their marriage and her standing if it gets out. For another, she realizes she's not truly happy in her marriage and wants to forge her own independent life. The play explores the themes of gender roles, marriage, and the struggle for freedom in a restrictive society.

Where is A Doll’s House playing?

A Doll’s House is at the Hudson Theatre, located at 141 W 44th St. between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. It is both Broadway's oldest and newest theatre: The building first opened in 1903, but it only reopened in 2017 as a Broadway theatre after being shut down and fully renovated.

The Hudson has become a prime venue for starry plays. Recent tenants include Plaza Suite, starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, and Death of a Salesman, starring Wendell Pierce and Sharon D Clarke.

How long is A Doll’s House?

A Doll’s House runs approximately 100 minutes with no intermission. This is about average for a Broadway show; they typically run anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours.

What days is A Doll’s House playing?

Before opening night on March 9, A Doll’s House plays Monday through Saturday, with no performances on Sunday. Afterward, A Doll’s House plays Tuesday through Sunday, with two performances on Wednesdays and Saturdays and no performances on Mondays. For an up-to-date weekly performance schedule, visit the A Doll’s House page.

When did A Doll’s House premiere?

A Doll’s House was written by Henrik Ibsen in 1879, and it premiered in Denmark in December of that year. The show did not premiere on Broadway, however, until 10 years later, in December of 1889. The show has since had countless productions all over the world. Here is a short history of A Doll’s House's early development and key milestones in the years since.

• 1879: Ibsen wrote and premiered A Doll’s House. The premiere run sold out and received critical acclaim. There was also plenty of backlash about Ibsen's questioning of standard gender roles and the ideal of marriage and motherhood.
• 1880: Ibsen had to rewrite his play with a less controversial ending in order to get it produced in Germany. Multiple subsequent productions would also only produce the show with the alternate ending, but it is rarely used today.
• 1889: A Doll’s House premieres on Broadway, starring Beatrice Cameron as Nora.
• 2006: This year is the 100th anniversary of Ibsen's death. A Doll’s House was the most frequently performed play in the world that year.
• 2023: A Doll’s House has its latest Broadway revival, starring Jessica Chastain.

Who wrote A Doll’s House?

A Doll’s House is by Henrik Ibsen, a Norwegian playwright and poet who is widely considered one of the fathers of modern theatre. A Doll’s House is arguably his best-known play, but his other famous works include Hedda Gabler, Ghosts, An Enemy of the People, and The Wild Duck. Ibsen is the most frequently performed playwright in the world after Shakespeare.

For the 2023 revival of A Doll’s House, Amy Herzog has adapted Ibsen's script. Herzog is a Pulitzer Prize finalist for her play 4000 Miles, and her other plays include Belleville, The Great God Pan, and After the Revolution.

A Doll’s House characters

A Doll’s House features the Torvalds along with some of their close friends and acquaintances. Every character knows things others don't, and tensions rise as their various secrets get revealed. Here are the main characters in A Doll’s House.

• Nora Helmer: The main character of the play, a wife and mother who is struggling to break out of the housewife mold and find her own identity. Jessica Chastain plays her in the 2023 revival.
• Torvald Helmer: Nora’s husband and a bank manager. He claims to love her deeply, but he often tries to exhibit control over her.
• Dr. Rank: A close friend of the Helmers who has a fatal illness. He is secretly in love with Nora.
• Kristine Linde: Nora’s old friend who has recently been widowed.
• Krogstad: An employee of Torvald’s bank. He previously lived a scoundrel's life and has since turned it around, but he blackmails Nora out of desperation when he loses his job.

What awards has A Doll’s House won?

The 2023 A Doll’s House production hasn't won any awards just yet. Past Broadway productions have received Tony nominations and wins, however. Though the play as a whole hasn't received many New York theatre awards, it is immortalized as a beloved classic. Here are the major awards the show has won.

• 1975 Broadway revival: Liv Ullmann earned Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations for her performance as Nora Helmer.
• 1997 Broadway revival: This production won all four Tony Awards it was nominated for: Best Revival of a Play, Best Direction Of A Play (for Anthony Page), Best Actress In A Play (for Janet McTeer as Nora), and Best Featured Actor In A Play (for Owen Teale as Torvald). It also won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival Of A Play. McTeer won the Drama Desk for Outstanding Actress In A Play and was a Theatre World Award recipient.

Major productions of A Doll’s House

In the nearly 150 years since A Doll’s House premiered, the show has received countless productions across the globe. Here is a selection of notable performances of this renowned play.

• 1879 Denmark premiere: The original production of A Doll’s House premiered in Copenhagen. Betty Hennings originated the role.
• 1880 German premiere: A production in Flensburg was the first to feature an alternate ending, as the lead actress did not want to portray Nora leaving her children. Though he did not want to rewrite the play, Ibsen did it anyway to avoid having another playwright do it for him.
• 1884 London premiere: A Doll’s House premiered in London under the title Breaking a Butterfly. Henry Arthur Jones and Henry Herman adapted Ibsen's script to make it more of a traditional morality play.
• 1889 Broadway premiere: Beatrice Coleman originated the role of Nora on Broadway at the Palmer's Theatre. Previously, A Doll’s House's American premiere took place in Louisville, Kentucky in 1883.
• 1997 Broadway revival: Janet McTeer starred in the show's most recent Broadway revival. It won all four Tony Awards it was nominated for, including Best Revival of a Play.
• 2023 Broadway revival: Jessica Chastain leads the current Broadway revival of A Doll’s House. The show was initially planned to go up in London and mark her West End debut. Instead, she returns to Broadway for the first time in 10 years.

Celebrities who have performed in A Doll’s House

Such a storied play is bound to attract many celebrated actors, and it has. Lots of celebrities have taken on the iconic roles of Nora, Torvald, and more. Discover the celebrities who have starred in A Doll’s House and which productions they led.

Jessica Chastain: Chastain is known for her performances in films such as The Help, Zero Dark Thirty, Interstellar, and Molly’s Game. She won an Oscar in 2022 for The Eyes of Tammy Faye. A Doll’s House marks her second Broadway outing after 2012's The Heiress. Learn more about Chastain's past theatre credits.
• Beatrice Cameron: Cameron originated the role of Nora on Broadway in 1889. She performed in six Broadway plays in 10 years, from 1887-97, before retiring from acting in 1898.
• Liv Ullmann: Ullman is often regarded as one of the greatest European actresses of all time. She received a Tony Award nomination for her portrayal of Nora in the 1975 A Doll’s House Broadway revival.
• Jane Fonda and David Warner: Oscar winner Fonda and Emmy winner Warner played the Helmer spouses in a Doll’s House movie in 1973. It was one of two film adaptations of the play released that year.
• Claire Bloom and Anthony Hopkins: Golden Age Hollywood actress Bloom and Academy Award winner Hopkins played Nora and Torvald, respectively, in the other 1973 film adaptation of A Doll’s House.
• Julie Harris and Christopher Plummer: This famous pair played the Helmer spouses in a 1959 TV movie of A Doll’s House.
• Janet McTeer: McTeer won a Tony Award for her performance as Nora in the 1997 A Doll’s House Broadway revival.
• Gillian Anderson: Emmy Award winner Anderson starred as Nora in a 2009 London production of A Doll’s House, newly translated by Zinnie Harris. • George Bernard Shaw: At the end of the 19th century, the renowned playwright played Krogstad in a private A Doll’s House production in London.
• Jan Maxwell: Five-time Tony nominee Jan Maxwell played Kristine Linde in the Tony-winning 1997 Broadway revival.
• Judith Light: Before Light became a multi-award-winning stage and screen actress, Light made her Broadway debut as Helene, the Helmers' maid, in 1975.
• Laurie Metcalf: Laurie Metcalf never starred in a major production of A Doll’s House, but she starred in Lucas Hnath's sequel play A Doll’s House, Part 2, which sees Nora return to the Helmers 15 years after leaving. Metcalf won her first Tony Award for her performance as Nora.

Onscreen adaptations of A Doll’s House

A Doll’s House hasn't received quite as many film adaptations as stage productions, but there's still a great many movie versions. Here are some of the major film adaptations of A Doll’s House.

• 1959: Julie Harris and Christopher Plummer starred in a TV film adaptation. The movie was actually a live performance of the play that was filmed and broadcast. • 1973: A Doll’s House was adapted twice for film in 1973. One film starred Claire Bloom and Anthony Hopkins; the other, Jane Fonda and David Warner. The Fonda adaptation is particularly notable for its casting of Fonda, a feminist who was actively speaking out for women's rights at the time. • 2012: Nora, a short film released by London's Young Vic theatre, imagined Nora as a modern-day woman. Hattie Morahan played the title character.

Fun facts about A Doll’s House

Explore the dollhouse further with these fun facts about Ibsen's classic play.

A Doll’s House is sometimes translated to English as A Doll House because "dollhouse" is a common English word. Some scholars argue, though, that the different translation slightly changes the title's meaning. • A Doll’s House has gotten multiple sequels. Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and Larry Grossman wrote a musical sequel called A Doll’s Life, and Lucas Hnath wrote a play called A Doll’s House, Part 2. Both imagine what Nora did after leaving her family. • A Doll’s House has been translated into more than 50 languages. • The characters of Nora and Torvald are loosely based on Ibsen's friend and her husband, Laura and Victor Kieler. • Ibsen is quoted as saying that A Doll’s House is a "modern tragedy" of how women could not be [themselves] in society, "with laws made by men and with prosecutors and judges who assess feminine conduct from a masculine standpoint!"

How to get A Doll’s House tickets

It has been nearly 30 years since this classic was on Broadway. With an acclaimed actress like Chastain making her grand return to the stage, it's an event not to be missed. Experience Ibsen's timeless feminist tale anew by getting tickets to A Doll’s House on Broadway.

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