The Examiner

Hudson Stage to Present Modern Take in Sequel of 19th Century Play

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Mariah Lee, who plays daughter Emmy, and Denise Bessette, her mother Nora, in Hudson Stage’s upcoming production of “A Doll’s House, Part 2.” There will be nine performances at Whippoorwill Hall in Armonk from Oct. 18 through Nov. 2.

Hudson Stage has put on some intriguing productions in recent years. Starting next Friday, the professional theater company that operates out of Whippoorwill Hall in Armonk will continue that trend.

Starting Friday evening, the company is presenting “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” a modern sequel written by Lucas Hnath a couple years ago. It follows Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House, Part 1” from 1879.

In Ibsen’s play, Nora Helmer leaves her husband, Torvald, and their three children, to make her own way in life at a time when women were largely property of their husbands.

Actor Kurt Rhoads, who plays Torvald, said his character had his life turned upside down in the original when his wife abruptly leaves. Now he’s in store for another upheaval when Nora returns in Part 2, which is set 15 years later after she has become a highly successful and famous writer.

“He’s been holding the fort down and there’s been no word from her since that day,” Rhoads said. “He’s raised the kids with the help of a nanny and he’s a banker. He’s shut off. He’s not the most modern man, I would say, but when he sees her it’s like this open wound.”

The show works well in the 21st century with the issues of societal expectations and the role of the genders explored and very much in the forefront, even though the show is set 125 years ago, said Denise Bessette, co-founder of Hudson Stage, who plays Nora.

“So it’s just a very contemporary spin on it,” Bessette said. “It’s kind of not a satire, by any means, but it’s her coming back 15 years later and why is she coming back and the language is alive and her relationship is so alive and it’s got a very contemporary feel toward it, and the language. It’s not a stodgy period piece whatsoever.”

Now that Nora has returned, the question what will happen to their relationship? Rhoads said the play makes some very strong arguments from both sides’ point of view.

Meanwhile, their three children are grown, with the two sons having moved out of the house and the youngest child, Emmy, engaged and soon to be married. Emmy and Anne Marie, the family nanny, are the other characters in “A Doll’s House, Part 2.”

Bessette said it’s been a joy to rehearse the play and she’s looking forward to the first of nine performances on Friday, Oct. 18.

“It’s so well-written, it’s so sharp and the dialogue is fast-paced and it’s full of ideas,” she said.

The show continues Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Nov. 2, with Sunday matinees on Oct. 20 and Oct. 27. On closing day, there will be both an afternoon and evening performance. Evening shows begin at 8 p.m. and matinees are at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $40 for adults and $35 for seniors. There are discounts for groups of 10 or more.

For tickets and more information, visit

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