Theater: Best of the Decade: Theater

A Life (1980). An austere civil servant, terminally ill, looks back in anger on his self-thwarting days and sees, too late, that he has been surrounded by decency and affection. Irish playwright Hugh Leonard traced delicate and complex patterns of marriage, friendship and that old indefinable, love.

Nicholas Nickleby (1981). An 812-hour joyride through the thrills and terrors of Dickens' novel, magnificently captured by the Royal Shakespeare Company. The show alarmed audiences with its $100 ticket price but turned out to be the entertainment bargain of a lifetime.

Dreamgirls (1981). Michael Bennett, creator of A Chorus Line, shaped this propulsive story...

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