This production is particularly notable for having had major changes made to it after it opened to negative reviews. According to an article in the edition of the New York Times dated January 28, 1953, the production's director and co-producer, Joshua Logan, told the cast the day after the opening that he believed the show could be a hit despite the negative reviews. He blamed himself, not them, for the show's shortcomings and told them that he planned to make changes to improve the show.
The following Tuesday, major changes to the book — 33 pages' worth — went into the show, with assistant director Marshall Jamison in the pit with the new script in case the actors needed to be prompted. (The article doesn't say whether any of them did need prompting.)
It took nearly a month before the second musical number, "Goodbye Love," was replaced by "There's Nothing Nicer Than People." For the original song, the situation was that the heroine, Teddy Stern, was breaking off her engagement with her suitor, Herman Fabricant. it was felt that this made Teddy unsympathetic and unintentionally brought audience sympathy to Herman. Prior to the new song being added, stop-gap changes had been made to the lyric of the original song.
The show was also helped to overcome the negative reviews by the success of the title song, which became a hit on jukeboxes and the radio. (Unmentioned in the Times article is that the most popular recording of the song was by Eddie Fisher.)
The Times article also attributed the gradual turnaround in the show's fortunes in part to the photograph used on the playbill cover, on the cast recording cover and in advertising for the show. According to the article, the "striking photograph ... became a trademark. It was made by camerman Slim Aarons during a pre-opening safari with three young couples from the show to an idyllic suburban spot. The couple depicted are John Perkins and Gloria Van Deweel. Showing the boy standing astride with the smiling girl held lightly in his arms, the photo so caught on that Catskills resorts began using it a take-off for their own promotion [sic]."
Unmentioned in the article is that Jerome Robbins and Donald Saddler did some post-opening choreographic work on the show. (Logan, with the help of a couple of assistants, had originally staged all the musical numbers himself, as he had done on the original production of South Pacific.) This is mentioned in Deborah Jowitt's book Jerome Robbins: His Life, His Theater, His Dance. According to the book, Robbins was asked to restage a number in which a campfire scene turned into an orgy. When no one could get the sequence to work to Logan's satisfaction — it may be that Saddler had worked on it by that point, but it's not clear — Robbins managed to do so. Jowitt's source for the story is cast member Nancy Franklin. Franklin remembered that Logan "blew his stack" when the sequence was not working as he wanted and yelled, "No! This is not what I want! I want this to look like one gigantic ratfuck!"