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In 1958, David O. Selznick (producer of the film version of the novel) contacted Harold Rome about writing a stage adaptation. Rome declined feeling that the film was still too fresh in people's minds.
When Selznick's option on the stage rights lapsed, they were taken up by Toho Corporation of Japan. They produced a straight play adaptation in 1966. Rome was brought in along with Joe Layton (who had wanted to stage a ballet based on the novel) to discuss writing a musical.See more