Based on the Ring Lardner Jr.-Michael Kanin screenplay for the 1942 Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy film of the same name, 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.
After eleven previews, the Broadway production, directed by Robert Moore, opened on March 29 1981 at the Palace Theatre, where it ran for 770 performances. The cast included Lauren Bacall, Harry Guardino, and Marilyn Cooper. Raquel Welch filled in for Bacall during her two-week vacation and later replaced her in the run. Debbie Reynolds replaced Welch near the end of the run. Barbara Eden played Tess in the 1984 national tour.
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 collegaues 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 wants her to keep her career; he just wants to be involved in the decisions in their relationship. They decide to work things out.