After tryouts in Atlantic City and Long Branch, New Jersey, Rose-Marie made its Broadway premiere at the Imperial Theatre on September 2, 1924. Directed by Paul Dickey and choreographed by Dave Bennett, the show featured orchestrations by Robert Russell Bennett and starred Mary Ellis, Dennis King and Frank Greene.
The production was hugely successful, running 557 performances and setting a record as Broadway’s longest-running musical. “Indian Love Call,” with music by Friml and lyrics by Hammerstein and Harbach, achieved instant fame. Critics were rapturous. Charles Belmont Davis of the New York Herald Tribune said the show was “a beautiful and highly colored composite photograph of a three-ring circus and shown to the accompaniment of the most entrancing music it has long been our privilege to hear.” The New York Post called it “thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish,” and the New York Evening World said, “We recommend Rose-Marie to all who like genuine musical comedy. Try it – you can’t go wrong.”
Jack Pulaski of Variety praised the show as “exceptionally bright and colorful,” but couldn’t resist mentioning the high cost of a Broadway ticket, citing Rose-Marie as “the first of the unusual number of high-scale musicals being topped at $4.40.”