In the early 1940s , Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein revolutionized musical theater with their show “Oklahoma!” which was not only a smash hit, but took the idea of integrating song and dance numbers into a story to new heights. But there was one person who was not so thrilled with their success—composer and lyricist Cole Porter. Porter seemed to take the opening of “Oklahoma!” as a challenge to create his own fully enmeshed musical. And so he began writing a little play called “Kiss Me, Kate,” a musical that takes place behind the scenes of a production of William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” The twist? The director and star of the play casts his ex-wife as the infamously reluctant in love Katherine, while he sets out to woo the actress playing Bianca.
The Broadway show was an instant smash with Alfred Drake and Patricia Morison in the lead roles. It won the very first Tony Award for Best Musical in 1949.