Lerner had assured the designer his book would cover only the early years of her life and career, and she was distressed when the plan was jettisoned to accommodate the older star. The highly fictionalized book and score underwent massive revisions and were far from complete when Hepburn concluded filming on The Madwoman of Chaillot, at which time she was scheduled to begin work on the show, and Coco was postponed a season while its creators worked on it.
The six-week rehearsal period finally began in September 1969. Cecil Beaton's set proved to be a complicated piece of machinery that frequently malfunctioned and was difficult for the cast to maneuver, and the final scene required a troublesome coordination of mirrors, platforms, runways, and flashing lights. Hepburn insisted the theater's thermostat be set at 60 degrees and the exterior doors left open, and most of the cast became ill due to the unusually cold fall weather. The star resisted efforts to tone down her dominant personality and become more like the quietly elegant woman she was portraying, and peppered her dialogue with ad libbed profanities that shocked Chanel when she later heard about them, and she not only refused to attend the opening night, but never did see the show.
Hepburn was scheduled to star in a West End production, but when the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane proved to be unavailable she refused to consider other venues and the project was abandoned. She headed the cast of the US national tour, which opened in Cleveland on January 11, 1972, the day after Chanel's death, which the star acknowledged at the final curtain call. She continued with the tour through June, when it ended at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. Although reviews in most cities were mediocre, it played to sold-out houses everywhere. Despite its financial success, executives at Paramount Pictures, which had financed the original Broadway production - at $900,000, the most expensive show in Broadway history at the time - in exchange for the cast album and film rights, opted not to transfer Coco to the big screen.
The first production of "Coco" in nearly 40 years was produced by 42nd Street Moon in San Francisco, presented as a staged concert and starring cabaret legend Andrea Marcovicci in the title role of the mercurial fashion doyenne. The musical previewed April 24 and 25, with opening night on Saturday, April 26, 2008, at the Eureka Theatre, where it played till May 11, 2008, for a total of 16 performances. Directed by Mark D. Kaufmann, with musical direction & accompaniment by Michael Horsley, choreography by Jayne Zaban, lighting by Ellen Brooks, scenic decoration by Mike Figueira, and costume design by Louise Jarmilowicz. The cast included: Nina Josephs as Noelle Forrestier, CJ Blankenship as Georges, Michael Patrick Gaffney as Louis Greff, Tom Orr as Sebastian Baye and Sandra Schlechter as Pignol, with Heather Gordon, Coley Grundman, Randel Hart, Juliet Heller, Lisa Hensley, Casi Maggio, Sean Patrick Murtagh, Tom Reardon, Stephen Vaught and Beverley Viljoen in the ensemble. It was Moon's last production featuring script-in-hand.