Paramount paid $285,000 for the film rights to the stage hit, a record at the time. $115,000 to producer Sam Harris, $85,000 to librettist Moss Hart and $42,500 each to composer Kurt Weill and lyricist Ira Gershwin.
The original Broadway production "Lady in the Dark" with book by Moss Hart, music by Kurt Weill and lyrics by Ira Gershwin opened at the Alvin Theater on January 3, 1941. It suspended performances for the summer on June 15 and resumed its run on September 2 and closed on May 30, 1942 after a total of 467 performances. The production played a return engagement at the Broadway Theater from February 27 to May 15, 1943 for an additional 83 performances. Gertrude Lawrence, Victor Mature and (in his breakout role) Danny Kaye were in the original cast.
In the original Broadway production, Danny Kaye sang his famous patter song, "Tchaikovsky (And Other Russians)," in which he dashed off the names of 50 Russian composers in 39 seconds. By the time the movie version was made, Kaye was under contract with Samuel Goldwyn, and could not appear in the film. His role as the photographer, Russell Paxton, was given to Mischa Auer, and the "Tchaikovsky" number was dropped.
Studio costume departments maintained a fur vault providing fur pelts for coats and costume trimming. The floor length mink skirt for Ginger Rogers used mink pelts from this vault. The original mink skirt was too heavy to wear. Barbara "Madam" Karinska was asked to rebuild the skirt. Karinska built a wire hoop covered with a fine netting, hanging and spacing the mink pelts apart from each other; supported by net, reducing the number of mink pelts on the skirt's total weight, allowing the skirt's flexibility on the actress' body during the dance sequence.
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. Its earliest documented telecast took place in Phoenix 11 March 1959 on KVAR (Channel 12); it first aired in Asheville 3 November 1959 on WLOS (Channel 13), in Seattle 7 November 1959 on KIRO (Channel 7), in Cincinnati 6 December 1959 on WKRC (Channel 12), and in Buffalo10 January 1960 on WGR (Channel 2); it finally reached Chicago 9 July 1960 on WBBM (Channel 2), Minneapolis 3 August 1960 on WTCN (Channel 11), San Francisco 13 August 1960 on KPIX (Channel 5), Pittsburgh 27 August 1960 on KDKA (Channel 2), and, after a long wait, New York City 3 March 1961 on WCBS (Channel 2). At this time, color broadcasting was in its infancy, limited to only a small number of high rated programs, primarily on NBC and NBC affiliated stations, so these film showings were all still in B&W. Viewers were not offered the opportunity to see these films in their original Technicolor until several years later.
The Broadway production of "Lady in the Dark" was designed by Harry Horner, whose set design used an inner turn-table, with an outer turn-table ring, with both turn-tables operating simultaneously, either in the same direction, or turning in opposition of each other. Noteworthy is the fact that this productions' turn-table set design was a first time, use of turn-table, on a Broadway stage, although turn-tables had been previously used in European productions. Harry Horner had been brought to New York by Max Rhinehart for his imported "Mid Summer's Night Dream" as his stage manager. Harry Horner remained in New York designing scenery afterwards.
Two mink gowns were created. The first, lined with glass rubies and emeralds, cost $35,000 to make. However, this dress was too heavy for dancing. A second version of the mink dress was created, lined with sequins, which was lighter so Ginger Rogers could dance in it. Both gowns are shown in the movie. The dress with the glass jewels was donated to the Smithsonian Institution.
Book: Edith Head: the fifty-year career of Hollywood's greatest costume designer, by Jay Jorgensen. Page 104.
Film costume designer Edith Head is credited for Ginger Rogers' modern day dress in the Paramount Pictures feature film-musical "Lady in the Dark." Broadway-film couturier/set designer Raoul Pene du Bois is credited in the feature film as the costume/set designer in the circus dream-musical dance sequences. Paramount film studio art department supervisor Hans Drier was the Paramount feature film's Production Designer. The film's director Mitchell Leisen, (formerly a set and costume designer), supervised and contributed his creative imaginative set and costume ideas, suggestions, in the creation of the film's scenery and costume applications. Leisen was instrumental in creating the mink-fur skirted gown lined in jewels for Ginger Rogers' musical circus sequence. Raoul Pene du Bois designed this costume which has usually been attributed to the films lead costumer Edith Head. The first mink gown was created, and during fittings and rehearsals, the costume's fur lined jeweled weight was just too heavy for Ginger Rogers to walk, nor to stand (up) during long filming sequences, nor to dance or perform in a choreographed production number. The first original gown, lined with matched paste-glass rubies and emeralds, cost $35,000 (in 1944 dollars) to manufacture. Brief shots of Rogers in the fur skirted paste-jeweled gown were photographed. The New York costume wizard Barbara Karinska was at the cross town - Culver City MGM studio collaborating with the costume designer Irene on the Ronald Colman and Marlene Dietrich filming of "Kismet." Raoul Pene du Bois, who had collaborated with Barbara Karinska in New York City's Broadway theatricals, begged, imploring Madam Karinska to remake the fur skirt to enable Ginger Rogers to perform and dance in the musical production number. Karinska made a second version of the mink dress, lined with sequins, which, less bulky - weighed less, was lighter for Ginger Rogers's choreographed dream-circus-dance production number. Studio costume departments maintained a fur vault providing fur pelts for coats and costume trimming. The floor length mink skirt for Ginger Rogers used mink pelts from this vault. The original show-piece mink skirt, too heavy to wear, was rebuilt as a new costume. Karinska built a wire hoop covered with a fine netting, hanging and spacing the mink pelts apart from each other; supported by net, reducing the number of mink pelts on the skirt's total weight, allowing the skirt's flexibility on the actress' body during the dance sequence. Both gowns are shown in the movie. The original fur-skirted gown with the paste-glass jewels was donated to the Smithsonian Institution. The second fur skirted gown was DE-constructed, with the fur pelts returned to the studio's fur vault. Karinska was never credited for building this particular Ginger Rogers - dance-costume.
The childhood song that grownup Liza can't remember, and which the child Liza sings if only for a few lines is the Kurt Weill classic, "My Ship," recorded many times since I n its entirety by such artists as Judy Garland and Ute Lemprer. The lyricist, Ira Gershwin, George's brother, was appalled when he learned only a fragment of the song would be sung in the film version of the hit Broadway musical.