Original Broadway Production (1949)
Carol Channing was to reprise her role as Lorelei in a London production in June 1952 to be produced by Jack Hylton. However, there were several factors that eventually cancelled the production: first, an application to reduce royalties and second, the length of Channing's engagement in the show balanced with her proposed starring in Can-Can. Hylton wanted Channing in the show for at least a year. Channing only wanted to stay for six months. Hylton was not sure that the production would recoup in six months and so the production was canceled.
The casting of the role of Lorelei caused many delays. Originally, Judy Holliday was approached early in the show's development. Later, June Havoc and Betty Hutton were both asked to play Lorelei. The production team was reluctant to cast any of the other roles until Lorelei, the pivotal role, was cast. But by the beginning of August, time was running out. Rehearsals were set to begin on August 22, no cast was in place, and stars were unwilling to commit to the show. To stay on schedule for the Broadway opening and keep the tryout dates, the producers signed Carol Channing. Channing was not as big a star as the other three actresses considered, but she had been thrust into the limelight after her turn in the hit revue Lend an Ear the year before.
Because of this delay, rehearsals were pushed back by a month and the tryout dates were rescheduled as well.
Gower Champion was asked to choreograph but the job eventually fell to Agnes de Mille. Martha Wright was mentioned for Dorothy (Yvonne Adair would take the role). Mark Dawson was mentioned for Gus (eventually filled by Jack McCauley).
Rehearsals began on October 17, 1949 (delayed after casting and financial troubles). There was a three-week tryout in Philadelphia (theatre unknown) beginning on November 14. Originally, there was to have been a one-week run in New Haven followed by three weeks in Philadelphia. But after casting troubles caused one round of delays and troubles raising money caused more, the New Haven run was scrapped.
Equity refused Agnes de Mille's request to rehearse dancers an extra week. She was so insistent that this was needed that she was willing to pay the rehearsal expenses out of her own pocket.
Paramount was able to share the proceeds of the film rights to the show because it controlled the screen rights to Anita Loos's play, on which the musical was based.
The advance prior to opening was $250,000 from 46 theatre parties (39 of which were for the entire capacity of the Ziegfeld Theare). Among the theatre parties were:
Prior to opening, 32 records of songs had been made by various record companies.