Royale Theatre, (2/24/1980 - 5/18/1980)

First Preview: Feb 11, 1980
Opening Date: Feb 24, 1980
Closing Date: May 18, 1980
Total Previews: 9
Total Performances: 96

Category: Play, Drama, Revival, Broadway
Setting: A hospital in America.
This production is a return engagement of Whose Life is it Anyway? (4/17/1979 - 10/27/1979)

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by The Shubert Organization (Gerald Schoenfeld: Chairman; Bernard B. Jacobs: President)

Produced by Emanuel Azenberg, James M. Nederlander and Ray Cooney; Produced by arrangement with Mermaid Theatre Trust

Written by Brian Clark

Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg

Scenic Design by Alan Tagg; Costume Design by Pearl Somner; Lighting Design by Tharon Musser; Hair Design by John Quaglia

General Manager: Jose Véga; Company Manager: Max Allentuck

Production Stage Manager: Martin Herzer; Stage Manager: Cathy B. Blaser; Assistant Stage Mgr: Dianne Trulock; Technical Supervisor: Arthur Siccardi

Cover art by Fraver

Press Representative: Bill Evans, Howard Atlee, Leslie Anderson and Jim Baldassare; Advertising: The Entertainment Group of J. Walter Thompson; Casting: Julie Hughes and Barry Moss; Photographer: Martha Swope

For her effort and support, Emanuel Azenberg & Iron Mountain Productions give special thanks to Dasha Epstein

Opening Night Cast

Mary Tyler MooreClaire Harrison
James NaughtonDr. David Scott
Josef SommerDr. Michael Emerson
Eric BoothAndrew Eden
Northern J. CallowayJohn
Edmond GenestDr. Paul Jacobs
Suzanna HayMary Jo Sadler
James HigginsJudge Wyler
Susan KellermannMargaret Hill
Johanna LeisterMrs. Boyle
Beverly MayNurse Anderson
Joseph McCarenDr. Robert Barr
John StraubPeter Kershaw

Standby: Catherine Gaffigan (Margaret Hill, Mrs. Boyle, Nurse Anderson)

Understudies: Eric Booth (Dr. Paul Jacobs, Dr. Robert Barr, Peter Kershaw), Edmond Genest (Dr. David Scott), David Harris (John), James Higgins (Dr. Michael Emerson), Joseph McCaren (Dr. Paul Jacobs), John Straub (Dr. Michael Emerson, Judge Wyler) and Dianne Trulock (Mary Jo Sadler)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

winner 1980 Special Award [recipient] 

Mary Tyler Moore

Drama Desk Award

 1980 Outstanding Actress in a Play [nominee] 

Mary Tyler Moore


New York Daily News: "There's a new talking head in 'Whose Life Is It?'"

"Whose Life Is It Anyway?," Brian Clark's engrossing hospital drama about a quadriplegic who fights for the right to die, returned to Broadway last night at the Royale after an absence of several months. But with a difference: the auto-accident victim, Ken Harrison, has undergone a sex change and is now Claire Harrison as a result of script surgery rather than the other kind. The setting has also been changed, from England to America.

Mary Tyler Moore, of television fame, is playing the role (for seven weeks only), and this really marks her theatrical debut here, for the ill-fated 'Breakfast at Tiffany's," the musical in which she was starred back in 1966, never got beyond the preview stage.

In the role of the witty, lusty sculptor reduced to an insensate body from the neck down due to a ruptured spinal cord, a part created so memorably by Tom Conti, the attractive actress is giving a coarser, harsher, much less sparkling performance than that of her brilliant predecessor, but it grows stronger as the play progresses. Once the battle lines are drawn between the patient - who sees no earthly reason for continuing life without sex and without the ability to put her artistic imagination to work with hammer and chisel - and the hospital's administrative doctor, Moore locks into the role forcibly so that we are fully absorbed and moved until the final blackout.

It is in the earlier, humorous scenes that actually take up such a large part of the play and that make Harrison's decision so acceptable to us that Moore is weakest, though she may not be entirely to blame for not appearing fully in character. For in addition to being Americanized ("Whose Life?" began its career on British TV and was then transferred to the West End), the play, and of course the central part in particular, has been rewritten without having shaken off its male origins.

The mostly crystal-clear, detached, outwardly amused and inwardly seething head bobbing from side to side and smiling sardonically as it studies the hospital life about it and incessantly cracks wise, is unmistakably Ken's, not Claire's. The added change from woman to man of Harrison's attending doctor, Scott, who develops an affection for his patient, a part nicely handled by James Naughton, does little to alleviate the situation.

Harrison's lawyer, who pleads the case for discharge that will inevitably result in the patient's death, has also undergone a sex change and is now performed by the striking Susan Kellerman. Josef Sommer offers a sympathetic portrayal of Harrison's antagonist, Dr. Emerson, the administrator under whose supervision Harrison has been "stabilized" after five months' intensive care and who is unable to entertain the thought of sacrificing life instead of saving it. Beverly May, the only holdover from the earlier production, is again ideal as the starchy but not wholly inconsiderate head nurse.

Michael Lindsay-Hogg has restaged the play along its original lines and in the same skeletal Alan Tagg setting that served so admirably before with its several swinging doors and many invisible doors and corridors threaded by the staff members as they move from room to room.

"Whose Life?" remains an absorbing and artfully constructed piece of work, and Mary Tyler Moore, though she possesses a perfectly good figure (she does walk on for curtain calls, of course), proves that she can at least get by, and often do better than that, as a talking head.

New York Daily News

Replacement/Transfer Info

The following people are credited as replacements or additions if they were not credited on opening night.

Royale Theatre

(2/24/1980 - 5/18/1980)


Everett McGill
Dr. David Scott

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