Richard Rodgers Biography

Richard Rodgers
Richard Rodgers

Richard Rodgers' contributions to the musical theatre of his day were extraordinary, and his influence on the musical theatre of today and tomorrow is legendary. His career spanned more than six decades, and his hits ranged from the silver screens of Hollywood to the bright lights of Broadway, London and beyond. He was the recipient of countless awards, including Pulitzers, Tonys, Oscars, Grammys and Emmys. He wrote more than 900 published songs, and forty Broadway musicals.

Richard Charles Rodgers was born in New York City on June 28, 1902. His earliest professional credits, beginning in 1920, included a series of musicals for Broadway, London and Hollywood written exclusively with lyricist Lorenz Hart. In the first decade of their collaboration, Rodgers & Hart averaged two new shows every season, beginning with POOR LITTLE RITZ GIRL, and also including THE GARRICK GAIETIES (of 1925 and 1926), DEAREST ENEMY, PEGGY-ANN, A CONNECTICUT YANKEE and CHEE-CHEE. After spending the years 1931 to 1935 in Hollywood (where they wrote the scores for several feature films including LOVE ME TONIGHT starring Maurice Chevalier, HALLELUJAH, I'M A BUM starring Al Jolson and THE PHANTOM PRESIDENT starring George M. Cohan), they returned to New York to compose the score for Billy Rose's circus extravaganza, JUMBO.

A golden period followed -- golden for Rodgers & Hart, and golden for the American musical: ON YOUR TOES (1936), BABES IN ARMS (1937), I'D RATHER BE RIGHT (1937), I MARRIED AN ANGEL (1938), THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE (1938), TOO MANY GIRLS (1939), HIGHER AND HIGHER (1940), PAL JOEY (1940), and BY JUPITER (1942). The Rodgers & Hart partnership came to an end with the death of Lorenz Hart in 1943, at the age of 48.

Earlier that year Rodgers had joined forces with lyricist and author Oscar Hammerstein II, whose work in the field of operetta throughout the '20s and '30s had been as innovative as Rodgers' own accomplishments in the field of musical comedy. OKLAHOMA! (1943), the first Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, was also the first of a new genre, the musical play, representing a unique fusion of Rodgers' musical comedy and Hammerstein's operetta. A milestone in the development of the American musical, it also marked the beginning of the most successful partnership in Broadway musical history, and was followed by CAROUSEL (1945), ALLEGRO (1947), SOUTH PACIFIC (1949), THE KING AND I (1951), ME AND JULIET (1953), PIPE DREAM (1955), FLOWER DRUM SONG (1958) and THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1959). The team wrote one movie musical, STATE FAIR (1945), and one for television, CINDERELLA. (1957). Collectively, the Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals earned 34 Tony Awards, 15 Academy Awards, two Pulitzer Prizes, two Grammy Awards and 2 Emmy Awards. In 1998 Rodgers & Hammerstein were cited by Time Magazine and CBS News as among the 20 most influential artists of the 20th century and in 1999 they were jointly commemorated on a U.S. postage stamp.

Despite Hammerstein's death in 1960, Rodgers continued to write for the Broadway stage. His first solo entry, NO STRINGS in 1962, earned him two Tony Awards for music and lyrics, and was followed by DO I HEAR A WALTZ? (1965, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim), TWO BY TWO (1970, lyrics by Martin Charnin), REX (1976, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick) and I REMEMBER MAMA (1979, lyrics by Martin Charnin and Raymond Jessel).

NO STRINGS was not the only project for which Rodgers worked solo: as composer/lyricist he wrote the score for a 1967 television adaptation of Bernard Shaw's ANDROCLES AND THE LION for NBC; contributed songs to a 1962 remake of STATE FAIR; and to the 1965 movie version of THE SOUND OF MUSIC. He composed one ballet score (GHOST TOWN, premiered in 1939), and two television documentary scores -- VICTORY AT SEA in 1952 and THE VALIANT YEARS in 1960 (the former earning him an Emmy, a Gold Record and a commendation from the U.S. Navy.)

Richard Rodgers died at home in New York City on December 30, 1979 at the age of 77. On March 27, 1990, he was honored posthumously with Broadway's highest accolade when the 46th Street Theatre, owned and operated by the Nederlander Organization, was renamed The Richard Rodgers Theatre, home to The Richard Rodgers Gallery, a permanent exhibit in the lobby areas presented by ASCAP which honors the composer's life and works.

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Recent Performances of works by Richard Rodgers
Production/Credit WhereOpening Night
A Grand Night For Singing ...... (Music) Nutley Little Theatre 2/10/2017
South Pacific ...... (Music) Middlesex County Plays in the Park 7/27/2016
South Pacific ...... (Music) Paper Mill Playhouse 4/9/2014
The Sound of Music ...... (Music) Teen Drama 3/8/2012
The Sound of Music ...... (Music) Brundage Park Playhouse 2/3/2012
The King & I ...... (Music) Somerset Valley Players 9/17/2010
The Sound of Music ...... (Music) Main Street Theatre Company 8/20/2010
Two By Two ...... (Music) Marlboro Players 4/23/2010
Oklahoma ...... (Music) Paper Mill Playhouse 9/17/2008
Carousel ...... (Music) SummerStage at Leonia 7/17/2008
Oklahoma ...... (Music) Surflight Theatre 5/28/2008
Cinderella ...... (Music) Rhino Theatre Company 5/9/2008
Oklahoma ...... (Music) Cranford Drama Club 5/2/2008
A Grand Night For Singing ...... (Music) Barn Theatre 11/15/2007
Carousel ...... (Music) Studio 13 Productions 9/20/2007
The King & I ...... (Music) Bergen County Players 9/9/2007
The Sound of Music ...... (Music) Phoenix Productions 9/7/2007
The Sound of Music ...... (Music) Yardley Players 7/13/2007
Cinderella ...... (Music) Villagers Theatre 6/1/2007
The King & I ...... (Music) Marlboro Players 1/19/2007
Cinderella ...... (Music) Country Gate Players 12/2/2006
Getting To Know... Oklahoma! ...... (Music) Cumberland Players 9/1/2006
The Sound of Music ...... (Music) Villagers Theatre 6/2/2006
The Sound of Music ...... (Music) Haddonfield Plays and Players 12/1/2005
Cinderella ...... (Music) Paper Mill Playhouse 10/19/2005
Oklahoma ...... (Music) Premier Theater Company 8/5/2005
The King & I ...... (Music) St. Catherine's Performing Arts Guild 7/29/2005
Carousel ...... (Music) Rhino Theatre Company 6/3/2005
A Grand Night For Singing ...... (Music) Players Theater Company 8/13/2004
A Connecticut Yankee ...... (Music) The Playful Theater Company 3/26/2004
The King & I ...... (Music) Cranford Repertory Theatre Group 3/13/2004
The Sound of Music ...... (Music) Mainstage Center For The Arts 1/24/2004
Cinderella ...... (Music) Haddonfield Plays and Players 12/4/2003
The Sound of Music ...... (Music) Country Gate Players 11/8/2003
The King & I ...... (Music) Road Company 11/7/2003
The Sound of Music ...... (Music) Paper Mill Playhouse 10/29/2003
Carousel ...... (Music) Phoenix Productions 9/12/2003
Carousel ...... (Music) Main Street Theatre Company 5/30/2003
The King & I ...... (Music) ShowKids Invitational Theatre (SKIT) 4/25/2003
Rodgers & Hart: A Celebration! ...... (Music) Players Guild of Leonia 2/28/2003
The King & I ...... (Music) Phoenix Productions 9/13/2002
Carousel ...... (Music) Cumberland Players 7/19/2002
Two By Two ...... (Music) Sketch Club Players 5/31/2002
The Sound of Music ...... (Music) Enchanted Players 4/26/2002
The King & I ...... (Music) Paper Mill Playhouse 4/3/2002
The Boys from Syracuse ...... (Music) Opera Theatre of TCNJ 2/28/2002
South Pacific ...... (Music) Y-PAC 12/8/2001
Carousel ...... (Music) Strand Theater Project 11/23/2001
Carousel ...... (Music) Opera Theatre of TCNJ 11/8/2001
The Sound of Music ...... (Music) Somerset Valley Players 9/7/2001
Carousel ...... (Music) Surflight Theatre 8/21/2001
Carousel ...... (Music) Spring Lake Theatre Company 8/9/2001
Carousel ...... (Music) Battery Factory Theater 7/27/2001
Two By Two ...... (Music) Over The Rainbow Productions 6/7/2001
South Pacific ...... (Music) Surflight Theatre 5/30/2001
Carousel ...... (Music) Paper Mill Playhouse 5/30/2001
South Pacific ...... (Music) Radburn Players 5/11/2001
By Jupiter ...... (Music) Voorhees High School Theatre 3/1/2001
The Sound of Music ...... (Music) Allegro Productions 12/1/2000
Babes in Arms ...... (Music) Surflight Theatre 9/12/2000
The Sound of Music ...... (Music) GB Productions 5/11/2000
On Your Toes ...... (Music) Allegro Productions 5/5/2000
Do I Hear a Waltz? ...... (Music) George Street Playhouse 10/9/1999
Carousel ...... (Music) Manalapan Community Players 7/30/1999
State Fair ...... (Music) Brookdale Community College Drama Dept 7/29/1999
South Pacific ...... (Music) Premier Theater Company 6/11/1999
South Pacific ...... (Music) Main Street Theatre Company 7/10/1998
Two By Two ...... (Music) East Brunswick Community Players 6/25/1997
The Sound of Music ...... (Music) Stagecrafters Inc. 4/26/1996
Look for works by Richard Rodgers at
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Recent Production Credits
Production/Credit WhereOpening Night
Triumph Of Love ...... Musical Direction Chester Theatre Group 4/30/2010
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