No Strings

No Strings is a musical drama with a book by Samuel A. Taylor and words and music by Richard Rodgers, the only Broadway score for which he wrote both lyrics and music, and the first musical he composed after the death of his long-time collaborator Oscar Hammerstein II. The musical opened on Broadway in 1962 and ran for 580 performances. It received a Tony Award nomination for Best Musical.

No Strings
Original London Cast Recording
MusicRichard Rodgers
LyricsRichard Rodgers
BookSamuel A. Taylor
Productions1962 Broadway
1963 West End
2003 Concert Production
AwardsTony Award for Best Composer


The world premiere of No Strings was at the O'Keefe Centre (now the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts) in Toronto. The U.S. premiere was at the Fisher Theater in Detroit, where the show ran from January 15 to February 3, 1962.

The musical opened on March 15, 1962 at the 54th Street Theatre in New York. It ran for slightly more than six months before transferring to the Broadhurst Theatre, where it continued until August of the following year, for a total of 580 performances and one preview. Joe Layton was both director and choreographer, with Diahann Carroll and Richard Kiley starring. Carroll won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, a first for an African-American. Barbara McNair and Howard Keel replaced them later in the run.

In December 1963, an equally successful production in London, starring Art Lund and Beverly Todd, opened at Her Majesty's Theatre.

In 2003, a staged concert production was held at New York City Center as a part of its Encores! series. This production starred James Naughton and Maya Days and was directed and choreographed by Ann Reinking.[1]


The civil rights movement—voter registration for blacks, integration, and fairness and equality in the workplace—was starting to gain momentum in the United States in the early 1960s, but it was a topic largely absent on Broadway. Neither the book nor score make specific mention of race, nor does it impact upon any decisions made by the couple, but Rodgers has addressed the issue.[2] Other than the model's reference to growing up north of Central Park (seemingly an allusion to Harlem), there is nothing in the script to suggest she's African-American. It was only in the casting of Carroll and Richard Kiley as the star-crossed lovers that the subject of interracial romance surfaced. Any production of the show easily could be cast with two leads of the same race without changing the content in any significant way. Nevertheless, the casting was socially progressive at the time.[3]

Rodgers got the idea for casting a black actress in the star role after viewing Diahann Carroll on The Tonight Show. "He felt that the casting spoke for itself and any specific references to race in the play were unnecessary. Rodgers said: 'Rather than shrinking from the issue of race, such an approach would demonstrate our respect for the audience's ability to accept our theme free from rhetoric or sermons.'" However, the characters' reluctance to discuss race was controversial.[4]


Fashion model Barbara Woodruff, living in Paris, meets and falls in love with expatriate American David Jordan, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist who has suffered from an intense case of writer's block since his arrival in France. She attempts to restore his confidence in his creativity, but the easy life he's enjoying, flitting about Monte Carlo, Honfleur, Deauville and St. Tropez, is too much of a distraction. Concluding that he can work only if he returns home to Maine, he invites her to go with him, but, realizing they have no future together, they part with "no strings" attached.

Song listEdit

The score was arranged and orchestrated without string instruments to typify the show's title.[5]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Original Broadway productionEdit

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1962 Tony Award Best Musical Nominated
Best Original Score Richard Rodgers Won
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical Richard Kiley Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Diahann Carroll Won
Best Direction of a Musical Joe Layton Nominated
Best Choreography Won
Best Conductor and Musical Director Peter Matz Nominated
Best Scenic Design David Hays Nominated
Best Costume Design Donald Brooks Nominated

Additionally, No Strings won the Award for Best Original Cast Show Album at the 5th Annual Grammy Awards in 1963.


  1. ^ Brantley, Ben. Theater Review; "Oh, Life Was Sweet And Paris a Bonbon", The New York Times, May 10, 2003
  2. ^ Block, Geoffrey Holden. Richard Rodgers, (2003), Yale University Press, ISBN 0-300-09747-6
  3. ^ No Strings, accessed July 23, 2009
  4. ^ Block, Geoffrey Holden. Richard Rodgers, (2003), Yale University Press, ISBN 0-300-09747-6, p. 208
  5. ^ "No Strings (With Strings) / Ralph Burns & His Orchestra". ArkivMusic. Retrieved 3 October 2018.

External linksEdit