Summer of the Seventeenth Doll for Melbourne

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll for Melbourne

An Australian classic returns home

The Melbourne Theatre Company’s Season 2012 opens with one of Australia’s most iconic and popular classics, Ray Lawler’s Summer of the Seventeenth Doll. Fresh from its highly acclaimed Sydney season at Belvoir, this revival, by award-winning director Neil Armfield, tells a poignant story of love, friendship and shattered illusions. Featuring a magnificent cast led by Steve Le Marquand, Travis McMahon, Helen Thomson, Robyn Nevin and Alison Whyte, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll opens Monday 16 January 2012 at 8pm at the Arts Centre, Playhouse.

‘This production of The Doll fell beautifully into our laps. It was already programmed as Neil Armfield’s final production for Belvoir St Theatre in Sydney and I had been cast. But it was only when both Ray Lawler and Neil Armfield made it clear that they would love MTC to take it on that we realised it would be such a perfect fit,’ said Robyn Nevin, a member of MTC’s Season 2012 Programming Team.

For sixteen long and glorious summers, cane-cutters Barney and Roo have left the fields of sunny Queensland to spend their hard-earned cash and summer layoff with Carlton barmaids Nancy and Olive, each year bringing a kewpie doll with them as a souvenir.

The boys are back for their seventeenth summer to discover that things aren’t the same. Nancy has gotten married, Olive has invited the sceptical Pearl to take her place, and Bubba is no longer the shy and innocent little girl next door. When the girls discover that Roo has lost his position as leader of the cane-cutting gang and will need to spend his summer working, it becomes obvious to all that this summer is not going to be the carefree time that they were all hoping for.

Playwright Ray Lawler was thrust into prominence when Summer of the Seventeenth Doll became a smash-hit for the Union Theatre Repertory Company (now MTC) in 1955 and subsequently toured Australia and to London. Lawler’s other plays include Kid Stakes, Other Times (completing The Doll Trilogy in 1975), The Man Who Shot the Albatross and Godsend. After living abroad from 1957, Lawler returned to the MTC in 1975 as Literary Advisor, where he directed numerous plays for the Company. The MTC Theatre which opened in 2008, features the Lawler Studio, named in his honour.

Cast includes Steve Le Marquand (Roo Webber), Travis McMahon (Barney Ibbot), Robyn Nevin (Emma Leech), TJ Power (Johnnie Dowd), Helen Thomson (Pearl Cunningham), Alison Whyte (Olive Leech) and Eloise Winestock (Bubba Ryan)

Director,Neil Armfield; Set Designer, Ralph Myers; Costume Designer, Dale Ferguson; Lighting Designer, Damien Cooper; Composer, Alan John; Sound Designer, Paul Charlier; Assistant Director, Susanna Dowling.

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

the Arts Centre, Playhouse

Season dates12 January to 18 February 2012

Opening nightMonday 16 January 2012 at 8pm

Tickets from $56 (Under 30s just $33)

Bookings: (03) 8688 0800 or; 1300 182 183 or

Further reading

Peter Pinne’s article on The Doll in our History section

Review of Sydney season

Interview with Ray Lawler – in our current edition.

Win Tickets

Competition Closed - We have a winner for the pair of tickets to Opening Night on January 16 - Congratulations to Maricke Wichne

The Challenge: Name the character played by playwright Raw Lawler in the original production of Summer of the 17th Doll. Readers of our print magazine will find the name of the character in our interview with the playwright on page 8 of the January / February 2012 edition. It’s also one of three male characters named in the cast list above.

To enter: Send us a message via our contact form with the title 17th Doll Tix, and your answer as the message.

Competition closes at 7pm on Monday January 9, 2012, when we will draw a winner from the correct answers.

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