Historical drama with music, 7m, 7w (plus a few children)  Can use a larger cast.
About 80 minutes, no intermission


The period following the Civil War was a time of great turmoil in America: reconstruction, industrialization, the Gilded Age, labor struggles, and women’s suffrage. Through it all, a family paper from Boston, The Youth’s Companion, was a steady presence in half a million homes across the nation, featuring voices of poets and presidents, science and travel stories, and promoting patriotism and temperance. From the sidelines, publisher Daniel Sharp Ford quietly used his wealth to help thousands of disadvantaged people. None but the Best pulls back the curtain on a man whose generosity still leaves fingerprints across the city and the nation.

Characters: Minimum required 7 men, 7 women. (and a few kids)

DANIEL SHARP FORD  40s+, publisher of Youth’s Companion and philanthropist, a man with a great sense of creativity and eye for
talent, of great faith and generosity, and almost painful shyness. (Born in 1822, in Cambridge, MA.)

ELLA FORD HARTSHORN  L40s, Daniel Sharp Ford’s daughter, dedicated to her father and to helping improve the lives of those less fortunate. A bright soul with an easy smile and laugh.

JAMES BAILEY UPHAM  50s, head of the premium department at the Youth’s Companion. Son of a well-known preacher, and Sarah Ford’s nephew. A man with a sharp eye for business.

C.A. STEPHENS  50s, one of the main writers for Youth’s Companion. A man of intense curiosity and good humor, who was raised in the back woods of Maine, but was also scientist and medical doctor and world traveler.

SARAH FORD  L50s. Married to DSF, a little older than he is. She’s already lost two children to sickness, which perhaps gives her a better understanding of other people who suffer.

REVEREND SEYMOUR  middle-aged leader of Ruggles Street Baptist Church

RUGGLES MAN  Working class members of the Ruggles Street Baptist Church


JOHN W. OLMSTEAD  40s. Daniel Sharp Ford’s business partner, a fellow editor and publisher. Takes his work and himself very seriously.

YOUTH’S COMPANION OFFICE WORKERS (1,2, AND 3) of various ages.

LAVINIA DICKINSON 59. The sister of Emily Dickinson

ELIZABETH STUART PHELPS WARD 40-50s, author, essayist, activist (promoted clothing reform for women).


FRANCIS BELLAMY 40, a Christian Socialist writer and activist. Quite sure of himself. Loves the sound of his own voice.

COLUMBUS DAY COMMITTEE MEMBERS 1, 2 AND 3 40s-60s–women from state higher education entities, entrusted with rolling out the big “Columbus Day” celebration in 1892.

BOSTON INDUSTRIALIST A middle aged businessman

BOSTON SOCIALITE A younger wealthy Bostonian, living for parties.

MISS COLBURN 20s-30s, a staff member at Ruggles Baptist, who works does some of the outreach

TENEMENT CHILD 7-10. Living in great poverty.

MRS. RIGBY 30s, living in the tenements, with four children and a sick husband.

FRANK MCCARTHY 30. Union Organizer.

BOSTON BUSINESSMAN1 40s+, businessmen from New England struggling with labor strikes.


Setting: Boston
Time: 1867-1899

Production history:

  • None but the Best was commissioned by In Good Company, and produced in Boston, Sherbourne, and Needham, MA, in 2013, with music direction by Kay Dunlap and direction by Jeff Mosser.
  • A revised version with music direction and new songs by Daniel P. Ryan was produced in 2018 by In Good Company in Waltham, MA.