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No Strings

Cover to OBCR

A Musical in 2 Acts. Music and lyrics by Richard Rodgers, book by Samuel Taylor

Directed and choreograhphed by Joe Layton.
Settings and lighting by David Hays.
Costumes by Fred Voelpel and Donald Brooks.
Musical direction and dance arrangements, Peter Matz. Orchestrations by Ralph Burns.
Associate choregrapher, Buddy Schwab.
Production supervisor, Jerome Whyte.
Assistant conductor, Milton Greene.
Produced by Richard Rodgers in association with Samuel Taylor.

Opened 15 March 1962 at the 54th Street Theatre, moved 1 October 1962 to the Broadhurst Theatre and closed 3 August 1963 (580 perfs)

Her Majesty's Theatre, London - 30 December, 1963


No Strings is the bitter-sweet tale of Barbara, an American black model living in Paris. She meets and fails in love with a white American, David, a former Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist who has had a bad case of writer's block ever since he came to live in France. She tries to restore his confidence in his writing ability, but the easy living he earns in Paris proves too much of a distraction. Realising that he can only work if he returns home to Maine, he asks her to go with him, but they discover that it would never work out . . . and they part with no strings attached. Songs include "The Sweetest Sounds", "No Strings" and "Nobody Told Me".


David is a successful, one-novel author bumming around Europe in search of material for his second work - or so he tells himself. At a friend's photography studio in Paris he meets fellow American Barbara, a top fashion model. They become attracted to each other. As they stroll to Barbara's apartment, they are like young university students

Richard Kiley and Models in "How Sad"
Richard Kiley and models in the number "How Sad"

discovering a new philosophy of life. In an abrupt turn, Barbara cautions David not to see her again and bids him goodbye. The reason is Louis de Pourtal, her wealthy patron who awaits inside. Louis outlines the evening's gaiety as Barbara dresses. She hears little as her thoughts keep returning to David. In the meantime, David has been drawn to Nice by Mike Robinson and his hard-living travelling companion, Comfort O'Connell. He is relieved by the diversion, but later back in Paris is upset to discover Barbara with Louis. He manages to get Barbara alone, confesses his love, and demands she stop seeing Louis. He has no right to make such demands, and she lets him know it.

David flees in anger and disappointment. Later that evening David goes to Barbara's apartment and finds her alone. Their inner feelings concur and they are inseparable. They travel to Honfleur where Barbara hopes to inspire David to begin work on his next book. The romance flourishes, but progress on the novel is nil. David's thoughts are of the parties in Deauville. When Barbara pushes the issue he takes off to join friends. Barbara returns to Louis in Paris. During his fling at Deauville, David realises the rut his life is in. He returns to Paris, finds Barbara, and pleads for another try. She persuades him to return to the US and write. He wants her to return with him, but her life is in Paris. As they part, David promises to make good on her hopes for him and return to her with reason to be accepted.


12 parts, 8 principals. Total cast, 35-45.

Barbara, exceptional singer, good actress (written for a Negro although no reference is made to race).
David, actor with legit voice.
Jeanette, typical French maid, petite, sings.
Luc, straight role.
Louis, handsome, stately actor who sings.
Comfort, character girl, sexy, good strong voice.

Other principals sing. No female dancers, but 10-15 "mannequins." 6 male dancers

No singing chorus.

Musical Numbers:

  1. The Sweetest Sounds - Barbara Woodruff, David Jordan
  2. How Sad - David Jordan
  3. Loads of Love - Barbara Woodruff
  4. The Man Who Has Everything - Louis de Portal
  5. Be My Host - David Jordan, Comfort O'Donnell, Mike Robinson, Luc Delbert, Gabrielle Bertini, Dancers
  6. La La La - Jeanette Valmy, Luc Delbert
  7. You Don't Tell Me - Barbara Woodruff
  8. Love Makes the World Go - Mollie Plummer, Comfort O'Donnell, Dancers
  9. Nobody Told Me - David Jordan, Barbara Woodruff
  10. Look No Further - David Jordan, Barbara Woodruff
  11. Maine - David Jordan, Barbara Woodruff
  12. An Orthodox Fool - Barbara Woodruff
  13. Eager Beaver - Comfort O'Donnell, Mike Robinson, Dancers
  14. No Strings - David Jordan, Barbara Woodruff
  15. Maine (reprise) - Barbara Woodruff, David Jordan
  16. The Sweetest Sounds (reprise) - David Jordan, Barbara Woodruff


Reed I (flute, alto sax), Reed II (clarinet, tenor sax), Reed III (clarinet, tenor sax), Reed IV (clarinet, bass clarinet, baritone sax), 2 trumpets, trombone, percussion, piano, bass

Scenes and sets:

Prologue, 2 acts, 10 scenes, written for rolling set pieces that tilt from one side to the other. 5 locations, requiring 9 separate sets. The action takes place in Paris, Monte Carlo, Honfleur, Deauville, and St. Tropez. Continuous action.


Scene 1: Paris, Enormous Photographic Studio.
Scene 2: A Paris Street. (Scenery moves up and down to represent changing parts of Paris.)
Scene 3: Barbara's Apartment.
Scene 4: Monte Carlo Auto Races. 


Scene 1: Honfleur - at the Edge of the Sea on the Normandy Coast.
Scene 2: House in Honfleur.
Scene 3: Deauville Casino.
Scene 4: A Beach Near St. Tropez.
Scene 5: Luc's Photographic Studio in Paris.
Scene 6: A Street in Paris.

Period & Costumes:

Paris and about France, the present: suits, coats, dresses, slacks, sweaters, body stockings (all very stylish in the most advanced designs). Leotards, sleeveless turtlenecks, white shirt for Jeanette, various high-fashion dresses and gowns being modelled. Housecoat. Evening dresses, negligée, comfortable old clothes, beach wear, bolero tops and tight pants, bikinis.


Tableaux of various modelling scenes, modern, ballroom steps, fan-dance steps, ballet.

Lighting and special effects:

Dramatic lighting required. Photographic studio set consists almost entirely of special illuminated lighting units. Auto racing effects.

NOTES: The orchestra is on-stage, and at times featured musicians rove about the action, playing their parts. In an attempt to soften the ending, one of the best numbers in the show, "Yankee Go Home," was cut. It still may appear in some scores for the show. It definitely does appear in the copy of the score Rodgers donated to the Library of Congress.


Original Broadway Cast Recording - Broadway Angel ZDM 0777 7 64694 2 3