The fair management made a terrible error when they decided to build the $250,000 Hall of Music in the Amusement Zone. Reinhard & Hofmeister, architects of Radio City Music Hall created an acoustical and comfort wonder: a seating capacity of 2,375 and a stage sixty-feet wide and fifty-six feet deep.
With so many venues throughout the city already available, most fairgoers refused to fork over $2.50 when Billy Rose's Aquacade's best seats topped out at $1.10. Of the 5,000,000 visitors to the fair as of late May, only 24,000 attended any performance at the Music Hall. However, only Marion Anderson's concert was SRO.
In desperation, the management decided to forego some $51,000 in contracts and redirect the hall's use. A meeting between Bill Robinson, star of the Broadway hit "The Hot Mikado," and Grover Whalen set thespian tongues wagging. Within weeks, a contract for the run-of-the-fair-season was signed and the roadway in front of the Hall was renamed Hot Mikado Lane.
Changes had to be made for the Mikado to transfer to the fair. The musical had played at the Broadhurst with a thirty-eight-foot stage. The Hall of Music's sixty-foot opening required a major reimagining of the production. The maple stage floor, one-and-a-half-feet below the footlights, had to be raised seven feet so the audience could watch Bill Robinson's footwork.
Hassard Short, the Broadway director, shortened the original into an hour-and -a-half production, to meet the needs of fairgoers, not theater goers. Two numbers, "The Sun and I" and "Were You Not To Ko-Ko Plighted," previously sung straight, became swing numbers. An additional number for Bill Robinson,"Thirty-Nine Years From Now," was meant to show how he would dance when he was 100.