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In praise of Betsy Joslyn A Doll's Life
Posted by: peter3053 03:55 pm EDT 08/15/19

I was listening again to the wonderful Larry Grossman score to A Doll's Life, and read the libretto, in the wake of Hal Prince's passing to the great Timeless Square in the Sky.

What a wonder is Betsy Joslyn! She couldn't have been offstage for more than a minute at a time in the whole show - maybe even less; and then, changing costumes for the next bit!

We lavish praise on great Evitas, great Dolly Levis and so on - but has anyone ever had to do all that Betsy had to? And to get through it all and still have the power to sing that confrontation with Torvald at the end! The whole show is squarely, roundly, rectangularly and triangularly on her shoulders, and perhaps because the material is so challenging musically, dramatically, and in the face of criticism of the show itself, she would have to be considered one of musical theatre's greatest heroic performers. in particular, I think - can't quite tell - she's having to sing belt voice as well as operatic soprano.

Had the show lasted longer than five performances beyond its Broadway opening, would there be any star greater in the pantheon?

She should be in the Hall of Fame for that one role alone, and if there isn't sufficient room, build a Hall of Fame around her!

As to the show - well, much has been said; but I wonder, had it opened in an opera house, whether its fate might have been greater.

But glory be to Betsy Joslyn!
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