Seventeenth Doll has a Summer in Melbourne

The Melbourne Theatre Company’s 2012 season opens with one of Australia’s most iconic and popular classics – Ray Lawler’s Summer of the Seventeenth Doll. 

The renowned play Summer of the Seventeenth Doll brought playwright Ray Lawler to prominence when it became a smash hit for the Union Theatre Repertory Company (now MTC) in 1955 with Lawler playing the role of Barney.

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll returns home next year to open the Melbourne Theatre Company’s 2012 season, and this time – 57 years on – it’s no longer a new work, but one of Australia’s most iconic and popular classics.

Fresh from an acclaimed Sydney season at Belvoir, and featuring a stellar cast led by Steve Le Marquand, Travis McMahon, Helen Thomson and Robyn Nevin, this revival of the old classic tells a poignant story of love, friendship and shattered illusions.

Directed by Neil Armfield, the Melbourne Season kicks off at the Arts Centre Playhouse on Monday 16 January 2012 at 8pm.

For Robin Nevin (pictured), a member of MTC’s 2012 interim programming team between Simon Phillips and Brett Sheehy’s Artistic Directorships, the show is a perfect fit.

‘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 Nevin.

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.

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.

Read’s review of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Sydney Season 

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

Arts Centre, Playhouse

Season dates 12 January to 18 February 2012

Opening night Monday 16 January 2012 at 8pm

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

Booking details

The MTC Theatre Box Office 03 8688 0800 or

The Arts Centre 1300 182 183 or

MTC 2012 Subscriptions on sale now The MTC Theatre Box Office 03 8688 0800 or

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 

Single tickets progressively on sale from 6 December 2011

Erin James

Erin James is's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

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