Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday! This month, we’re celebrating a show that opened 60 years ago last week — the fascinating No Strings (1962), Richard Rodgers’ first score following the death of his long-time collaborator Oscar Hammerstein II. A romantic comedy, No Strings was also notable for its star casting: Richard Kiley and Diahann Carroll, who won a Tony Award for her work — the first Black actress to be so honored.
Although this interracial coupling was not addressed directly in the text of Samuel A. Taylor’s book, a mature romance between two adults who mutually part before the curtain falls made their love story seem sophisticated, and while Rodgers’ efforts (he wrote both music and lyrics) may have longed for his old partner’s intelligence, the show offered several great tunes, including “The Sweetest Sounds,” “Loads Of Love,” and “Be My Host.” In fact, Rodgers’ score was also rewarded by the Tony voters (over How To Succeed and Milk And Honey), as was director Joe Layton’s fresh choreography. Here’s a clip of the original company on Ed Sullivan.
Of course, the Original Broadway Cast recording is a “must” — and the 1963 London Cast album is a nice complement — but if you’re a subscriber eager to enjoy this show in performance, comment below to alert me of your non-commercial interest, for I’ve got a live audio of the 2003 Encores! production, starring James Naughton and Maya Days. (This is your chance to hear most of the book!) It doesn’t quite make the case for No Strings like the original cast and crew, but it’s worth having nonetheless — and in the meantime, here’s an excerpt.
Come back next month for another musical rarity! And stay tuned for more sitcom fun!