Annie is a musical based upon the popular Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie. The music is by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and the book by Thomas Meehan. Famous songs from the musical include "Tomorrow" and "It's A Hard Knock Life".
Annie is a 11-year old (in various versions, she is played by actresses from ages 10 to 15 but is scripted as age 11, her birthday is 0ctober 28, 1922, and the show takes place in 1933) orphan girl living in Depression era New York City. The play begins late one December night, when an orphan girl named Molly is jolted awake by dreams of her parents. Annie shows the girl a note her parents left her in one half of a heart-shaped locket, which promises that they will one day come get her (Maybe).
Shortly after this, Annie realizes that her "folks are never coming for [her]." and that she has to go find them. She decides to escape the orphanage, but is quickly thwarted by Miss Hannigan, the cruel woman who owns the orphanage. The children are forced to clean the orphanage at this early hour (Hard Knock Life), though when Bundles McCloskey, the laundryman, comes to pick up the orphan's sheets, Annie escapes in a laundry basket.
During her escape, Annie meets a dog named Sandy (Tomorrow) and meets a group of people in a Hooverville (We'd Like To Thank You Herbert Hoover). During a raid on the Hooverville, however, Annie looses track of Sandy, and is found by the police and is taken back to the orphanage (Little Girls). Mere minutes after Annie is returned to Hannigan, Grace Farrell, secretary to billionaire Oliver Warbucks, arrives at the orphanage. Warbucks wishes to have an orphan stay at his home for Christmas (reasons for the adoption vary from version to version, from the need for an heir to a PR stunt), so Annie is taken by Grace.
Though the servants at Warbucks' mansion welcome Annie warmly (I Think I'm Gonna Like it Here), Warbucks is more hesitant to accept Annie. The two strengthen their bond during a trip to the Roxy (N.Y.C.), as well as other briefly mentioned trips. Warbucks quickly decides that he wishes to adopt Annie. Hannigan is clearly angered over this news, and with the help of her conman brother Rooster and his girlfriend Lily St. Regis, the three develop a plan to get rich off of Annie (Easy Street).
To break the ice for a request for adoption, Warbucks buys Annie a new heart locket. (Why Should I Change A Thing?) When the girl approaches hysteria as he attempts to take the old locket off, Warbucks realizes that Annie still wishes to find her parents. He swears to Annie that he will find her mother and father (You Won't Be An Orphan For Long).
The pair go on a radio show, and initiate a public plea for Annie's parents. Warbucks offers $50,000 to anyone who can prove that they are Annie's parents - or, whoever has the second half of the locket (You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile). The radio broadcast is heard by the orphans (You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile (Reprise)), as well as Miss Hannigan. Rooster and Lily plan to pose as Annie's parents, and with Hannigan's knowledge of the second half of the locket, take the reward money and leave town (Easy Street - Reprise).
Meanwhile, during a visit to the White House, Warbucks and Annie inspire Roosevelt and his Cabinet to introduce the New Deal platform (Tomorrow - Cabinet Reprise). After a paper from the F.B.I. shows that it will be impossible to trace Annie's parents through the locket - over 90,000 were made - and the 1,000+ people claiming to be Annie's parents turn out to be liars, Warbucks decides to adopt Annie (Something was Missing, I Don't Need Anything But You).
During an improvised party celebrating the eve of Annie's adoption, Lily and Rooster enter disguised as "Ralph Mudge" and "Shirley Mudge", and claim to be Annie's parents. As the couple has a false birth certificate and the other locket half, Warbucks begrudgingly accepts the two as Annie's parents. Warbucks invites the pair to come pick her up the next day, on Christmas morning.
Warbucks, and surprisingly Annie, are saddened over this turn of events (Maybe - Reprise). New news from the F.B.I. is quickly received - Annie's real parents, David and Margaret Bennett, have died. Lily, Rooster, and their accomplice Hannigan are all arrested. The play ends with a full cast song (New Deal for Christmas), the adoption of Annie by Warbucks, and the re-uniting of Sandy and Annie.
Annie opened on August 10, 1976 at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Connecticut.
The original Broadway production opened at the Alvin Theatre on April 21, 1977 and ran for 2,377 performances. It starred Andrea McArdle as Annie, Reid Shelton as Daddy Warbucks, and Dorothy Loudon as Miss Hannigan. It was nominated for 11 Tony Awards and won 7, including Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book. Subsequent replacements for McArdle in the lead role included then-child actors Shelley Bruce, Sarah Jessica Parker, Allison Smith, and Alyson Kirk.
Original London Cast
In 1978, a London Cast of Annie opened on West End in London. Though Andrea McArdle played the title role for forty performances, Ann Marie Gwatkin did the role for most of the show and also appeared on the cast recording. Miss Hannigan was played by Sheila Hancock, and Daddy Warbucks was played by Stratford Johns.
A stage sequel to Annie was written that eventually morphed into two separate sequels. Annie II: Miss Hannigan's Revenge opened at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in December 1989. Later, the script was extensively re-worked and the name changed into Annie Warbucks. Annie Warbucks opened at the Variety Arts Theatre in New York in 1993. Neither Annie II nor Annie Warbucks was a huge hit - which is understandable (especially in the case of Annie II), because of what many considered "severe out-of-character writing."
A Broadway 20th Anniversary revival in 1997 starred the late Nell Carter, and later Sally Struthers as Miss Hannigan, but controversy surrounded the casting of the titular character. The original girl cast in the role, Joanna Pacitti, was fired and replaced by her understudy while battling bronchitis in her hotel room, just two cities away from their Broadway debut. Public sentiment seemed to side with Pacitti as she was the winner of a highly-publicized contest to find a new Annie sponsored by the department store Macy's. This very public incident, coupled with the rather mixed reviews the new staging garnered, doomed it to a short run. After the short Broadway run, however, a moderately successful national tour was staged.
Starting in 2005, a 30th Anniversary traveling production of Annie by Networks Tours embarked on a multi-city tour. Due to its popularity, the tour's initial 11-month run was extended into 2007. This production is directed by Martin Charnin and stars Conrad John Schuck as Daddy Warbucks, Alene Robertson as Miss Hannigan, and Marissa O'Donnell as Annie.
For the 2nd year of the tour, Annie will be played by Marissa O'Donnell again, Amanda Balon will move up to the role of Duffy, Anastasia Korbal will play Molly, Gaby Nicole Carruba will play Kate/US Annie, Brandy Panfili will play Tessie, NicKayla Tucker will play July, and Madison Zavitz will play Pepper.
*Added in 2004 when script was revised
The film version, made in 1982 by Columbia Pictures, starred Aileen Quinn as Annie, Albert Finney as Daddy Warbucks, Carol Burnett as Miss Hannigan, Bernadette Peters as Lily, Ann Reinking as Grace, and Tim Curry as Rooster. The film also restored the characters of Warbucks' servants/bodyguards from the comic strip, Punjab and The Asp, Played by Geoffrey Holder and Roger Minami respectively. It was directed by John Huston, his first and only film musical. The film's reviews ranged from positive to extremely hostile, and in spite of a $57 million US box office take (making it 10th highest grossing film of the year), the film still did not turn a profit on its theatrical release. An actress who played one of the orphan girls in the movie, Marta Marrero, later became a successful pop/dance singer as Martika.
Some of the changes were:
A sequel to the 1982 film, Annie: A Royal Adventure! was made for television in 1995. The sequel starred Ashley Johnson, Joan Collins, George Hearn and Ian McDiarmid and involves an evil noblewoman's plot to blow up Buckingham Palace.
1999 Television Movie
A made-for-TV movie version appeared in 1999 starring Kathy Bates as Miss Hannigan, Kristin Chenoweth as Lily, Victor Garber as Daddy Warbucks, Alan Cumming as Rooster and newcomer Alicia Morton as Annie. It was produced by The Walt Disney Company and received generally positive reviews and high ratings. It also earned a 1999 George Foster Peabody Award. Although truer to the original stage musical than the 1982 movie, it condensed much of the full story in an attempt to make it more viewable for children. It featured a special appearance by Andrea McArdle, star of the original Broadway production.
Life After Tomorrow
A new documentary, featuring many of the orphans who appeared in the show during its original Broadway run (1977-1983), Life After Tomorrow, will be released in 2006. For more information, visit www.lifeaftertomorrow.com.
Pop culture references
This musical is mentioned constantly in popular culture, either directly or indirectly through its songs, particularly "Tomorrow". For instance: