Original London Cast Recording
|Book||Samuel A. Taylor|
1963 West End
2003 Concert Production
|Awards||Tony Award for Best Composer|
No Strings is a musical drama with a book by Samuel A. Taylor and words and music by Richard Rodgers, his 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 the nomination for Tony Award, Best Musical.
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. 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. Barbara McNair and Howard Keel replaced them later in the run.
In 2003, a staged concert production was held at New York's 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. 
The issue of civil rights—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, as stated in the Block book. 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, but 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.
As related by Geoffrey Block, 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.
Fashion model Barbara Woodruff, living in Paris, France, 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.
In keeping with the title of the show, the score was arranged and orchestrated without string instruments.
Awards and nominations
Original Broadway production
|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 Conductor and Musical Director||Peter Matz||Nominated|
|Best Scenic Design||David Hays||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Donald Brooks||Nominated|
- Brantley, Ben.THEATER REVIEW; "Oh, Life Was Sweet And Paris a Bonbon"The New York Times, May 10, 2003
- No Strings diahann-carroll.info, accessed July 23, 2009
- Block, Geoffrey Holden. Richard Rodgers, (2003), Yale University Press, ISBN 0-300-09747-6, p. 208