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

No Strings is a musical drama with book by Samuel A. Taylor and words and music by Richard Rodgers. No Strings is the only Broadway score for which Rodgers 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 six Tony Award nominations, winning three, for Best Leading Actress in a Musical, Best Original Score and Best Choreography.

Productions

The world premiere of No Strings was at the O'Keefe Centre (now Meridian Hall) 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]

Background

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.[original research?] 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."[2]

However, the characters' reluctance to discuss race was controversial.[2]

Synopsis

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.[4]

Song list

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

Recorded versions

The success of the Broadway production lead to three album versions released in 1962. In a year when musical theater recordings proved to be commercially unsuccessful, No Strings recordings were one of the few that did well.[6]

Original Broadway cast recording

The Broadway cast recording was released in March by Capitol Records and reached fifth place on the charts during its year-long run and won the Best Original Cast Show Album Grammy Award.[7] Billboard recommended the album to work to retailers as a "delightful score" that deserved "equal acclaim" to the stage production[8] and Editors at AllMusic rated this album 3.5 out of 5 stars, with critic William Ruhlmann writing that this is a "strong cast".[7]

All songs written by Richard Rodgers.

  1. "The Sweetest Sounds" by Diahann Carroll and Richard Kiley – 5:02
  2. "How Sad" by Richard Kiley – 2:35
  3. "Loads of Love" by Diahann Carroll – 3:20
  4. "The Man Who Has Everything" by Mitchell Gregg – 4:14
  5. "Be My Host" by Don Chastain, Al Epstein, Ann Hodges, and Richard Kiley – 2:41
  6. "La-La-La" by Noelle Adam and Al Epstein – 2:34
  7. "You Don't Tell Me" by Diahann Carroll – 1:54
  8. "Love Makes the World Go" – 2:40
  9. "Nobody Told Me" by Diahann Carroll and Richard Kiley – 4:02
  10. "Look No Further" by Diahann Carroll and Richard Kiley – 3:18
  11. "Maine" by Diahann Carroll and Richard Kiley – 3:02
  12. "An Orthodox Fool" by Diahann Carroll – 3:09
  13. "Eager Beaver" by Don Chastain – 4:27
  14. "No Strings" by Diahann Carroll and Richard Kiley – 4:27
  15. "Finale: The Sweetest Sounds (Reprise)" by Diahann Carroll and Richard Kiley – 1:29

Personnel include:

Richard Rodgers’ No Strings. An After‐Theatre Version

Richard Rodgers’ No Strings. An After‐Theatre Version is a jazz album with tracks by LaVern Baker, Chris Connor, Herbie Mann, and Bobby Short released in April[9] and promoted it with several singles.[10] Billboard reviewed this album as a "strong sales potential" release with "interesting versions" of the songs that they recommend for younger record buyers.[9] Editors at AllMusic rated this album 3.5 out of 5 stars, with critic William Ruhlmann writing it was appropriate for Atlantic Records to adapt the big band sound to that of several jazz performers at a night club.[11]

All songs written by Richard Rodgers.

  1. "The Sweetest Sounds" by Chris Connor – 2:34
  2. "Be My Host" by Bobby Short – 2:26
  3. "You Don't Tell Me" by LaVern Baker – 2:56
  4. "The Man Who Has Everything" by Bobby Short – 2:21
  5. "Look No Further" by Chris Connor – 3:42
  6. "Eager Beaver" by LaVern Baker – 2:10
  7. "Loads of Love" by LaVern Baker – 2:25
  8. "La La La" by Herbie Mann – 2:36
  9. "An Orthodox Fool" by Bobby Short – 2:36
  10. "Nobody Told Me" by Chris Connor – 3:19
  11. "Love Makes the World Go" by Bobby Short – 2:31
  12. "No Strings" by Chris Connor – 2:37

Personnel include:

Sweetest Swingin' Sounds of 'No Strings'

A third album was released in May by Capitol, recorded by big band trumpeter Billy May.[12][13] Billboard speculated that it would be a "potent seller" that was "full of the wit and beat" that characterized May's work[12] and the album was re-released on CD in 1999 in a package with the album The Girls and Boys on Broadway; editors at AllMusic scored this compilation 4 out of 5 stars.[14]

All songs written by Richard Rodgers.

  1. "No Strings" – 1:59
  2. "The Sweetest Sounds" – 1:47
  3. "Love Makes the World Go" – 1:45
  4. "Nobody Told Me" – 2:05
  5. "Loads of Love" – 2:15
  6. "Maine" – 2:13
  7. "Eager Beaver" – 2:20
  8. "Look No Further" – 2:02
  9. "An Orthodox Fool" – 1:30
  10. "La La La" – 2:23
  11. "The Man Who Has Everything" – 2:15
  12. "Be My Host" – 2:09

Awards and nominations

Accolades for the original Broadway production of No Strings
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
1963 Grammy Award Best Original Cast Show Album[15][16] Richard Rodgers Won

References

  1. ^ Brantley, Ben. "Oh, Life Was Sweet And Paris a Bonbon", (Theater Review.) The New York Times. May 10, 2003. (Retrieved 2020-11-01.)
  2. ^ a b c Block, Geoffrey Holden. Richard Rodgers, (2003), Yale University Press, ISBN 0-300-09747-6
  3. ^ No Strings diahann-carroll.info, accessed July 23, 2009
  4. ^ "No Strings". Concord Theatricals. Retrieved 3 October 2021.
  5. ^ "No Strings (With Strings) / Ralph Burns & His Orchestra". ArkivMusic. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  6. ^ "Theater Music Year a Rough One; Only Three Smash Albums Emerge". Billboard Music Week. Billboard. 1962-06-02. p. 4. ISSN 0006-2510.
  7. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William (n.d.). "Original Broadway Cast – No Strings". AllMusic. RhythmOne. Retrieved 2023-08-12.
  8. ^ "Pop". Album Reviews. Billboard. 1962-03-31. p. 26. ISSN 0006-2510.
  9. ^ a b "Strong Sales Potential". Album Reviews. Billboard. 1962-04-28. p. 30. ISSN 0006-2510.
  10. ^ "Jazz Singles Out of 'No Strings' LP". Billboard Music Week. Billboard. 1962-04-21. p. 10. ISSN 0006-2510.
  11. ^ Ruhlmann, William (n.d.). "Various Artists – No Strings: An After-Theatre Version". AllMusic. RhythmOne. Retrieved 2023-08-12.
  12. ^ a b "Pop". Album Reviews. Billboard. 1962-05-26. p. 22. ISSN 0006-2510.
  13. ^ "Billy May – Sweetest Swingin' Sounds of 'No Strings'". AllMusic. RhythmOne. n.d. Retrieved 2023-08-12.
  14. ^ "Billy May – The Girls and Boys on Broadway/The Sweetest Swingin' Sounds of 'No Strings'". AllMusic. RhythmOne. n.d. Retrieved 2023-08-12.
  15. ^ "Past Winners Search". Grammy.Com. 30 April 2017.
  16. ^ "Grammy Awards 1963". Awards & Shows. Archived from the original on 2016-12-07. Retrieved 2015-03-26.