Woman of the Year
Original Cast Recording
MusicJohn Kander
LyricsFred Ebb
BookPeter Stone
Basis1942 film Woman of the Year
Productions1981 Broadway
1983 First National Tour
1983 Mexico
1983 Argentina
AwardsTony Award for Best Score
Tony Award for Best Book

Woman of the Year is a musical with a book by Peter Stone and score by John Kander and Fred Ebb.

Based on the Ring Lardner Jr.-Michael Kanin screenplay for the 1942 Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy film Woman of the Year, the musical changes the newspaper reporters of the original to television personality Tess Harding and cartoonist Sam Craig, who experience difficulty merging their careers with their marriage. The musical premiered on Broadway in 1981 and starred Lauren Bacall.


Just before Tess Harding, a nationally known television news personality, comes on stage to receive an award as "Woman of the Year", she reminisces about an on-air editorial that she gave denigrating newspaper comic strips. The article offended the cartoonists who frequent the Ink Pot saloon and inspired syndicated cartoonist Sam Craig to publish a caricature depicting her as a snob in his strip Katz. Tess is annoyed, but when the handsome and charming Sam shows up at her office, she apologizes and invites him to dinner. At the Ink Pot, she charms Sam and his colleagues by revealing her knowledge about comic art.

Tess and Sam begin a romance, move in together, and finally marry, but their busy careers leave little time for them to spend together, and their big egos pose problems in their marriage. In one of his comics, Katz quips that marriage is a breeze - it's the living together that's so damned hard. Tess is offended, an argument ensues, and Sam announces he no longer can deal with the couple's fraying love life. The time moves forward to the present, and it's time for Tess to accept her award, just as she has lost the man she loves.

Several weeks later, Tess is conflicted about her role as a powerful newswoman versus her role as a wife. She seeks advice from Russian ballet dancer Alexi Petrikov, whom she helped to defect. He tells her that he is returning to Russia, because the wife he left behind is more important than his career. Tess travels to visit first husband Larry Donovan and his wife Jan to discover why their marriage is a success. She decides to concentrate on her marriage and announces that she is resigning from her show. But Sam tells her that he wants her to keep her career; he just wants to be involved in the decisions in their relationship. They decide to work things out.


Original cast and characters

Character Broadway (1981)[1] 1st National Tour[2]
Tess Harding Lauren Bacall Barbara Eden
Sam Craig Harry Guardino Don Chastain
Pinky Peters Gerry Vichi Steven Kosinski
Phil Whittaker Tom Avera Larry Hansen
Ellis McMaster Rex Hays Mace Barrett
Gerald Howe Roderick Cook Edward Conery
Abbott Canfield Lawrence Raiken Tom Flagg
Alexi Petrikov Eivind Harum Alexander Kramarevsky
Helga Grace Keagy Dolores Wilson
Chip Salisbury Daren Kelly Lee Chew
Floor Manager Michael O'Gorman David Reitman
Chairperson Helon Blount Irma Rogers
Maury Rex Everhart Ken Ellis
Larry Donovan Jamie Ross Jered Holmes
Jan Donovan Marilyn Cooper


The Broadway production opened on March 29, 1981, at the Palace Theatre, where it ran for 770 performances and eleven previews. Directed by Robert Moore, the cast included Lauren Bacall, Harry Guardino, Marilyn Cooper, Grace Keagy, and Roderick Cook.[3] Raquel Welch filled in for Bacall during her two-week vacation and later replaced her in the run.[4] Debbie Reynolds replaced Welch in February 1983.[5] Barbara Eden played Tess in the 1984 national tour.[6]

Sets were designed by Tony Walton and costumes were by Theoni V. Aldredge, and choreography was by Tony Charmoli. Michael Sporn created an animated cat that danced and sang with Guardino.

The New York Times provided considerable information about the original production’s finances: 10% of gross receipts to Bacall; 9% split by Stone, Kander, and Ebb; 4% to the producers; nearly 3% to Stone, 2% to MGM, 1.5% to choreographer Charmoli, smaller royalties to the scene and costume designers; the Palace theater’s owners received operating costs and a ticket share averagine 6% of the gross.[7]

Porchlight Music Theatre presented this show in November 2017 as a part of their "Porchlight Revisits" season in which they produce three forgotten musicals per year. This production was in Chicago, Illinois. It was directed by Artistic Director, Michael Weber, choreographed by Florence Walker Harris, and music directed by David Fiorello.

Awards and nominations

Original Broadway production

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1981 Tony Award Best Musical Nominated
Best Book of a Musical Peter Stone Won
Best Original Score John Kander and Fred Ebb Won
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Lauren Bacall Won
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Marilyn Cooper Won
Best Direction of a Musical Robert Moore Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Marilyn Cooper Won


  1. ^ Playbill 1981 Bio Cast Listaccessed 07/03/2023
  2. ^ Playbill National Tour Bio Cast Listaccessed 07/07/2023
  3. ^ Rich, Frank."Stage: Lauren Bacall In 'Woman Of Year'" The New York Times, March 30, 1981
  4. ^ Gussow, Mel."Theater: Raquel Welch In 'Woman Of The Year'" The New York Times, December 11, 1981
  5. ^ Gussow, Mel."Stage: Debbie Reynolds In 'Woman Of The Year'"The New York Times, February 28, 1983
  6. ^ Frank, Leah D."'Woman Of The Year': Charm And Pizzaz; Westbury Music Fair" The New York Times, April 22, 1984
  7. ^ Salmans, Sandra. “Why Investors in Broadway Hits are Often Losers.” New York Times, 22 November 1981, D1.