Cast Announced for National Tour of Annie; Veteran Villain Is Miss Hannigan

News   Cast Announced for National Tour of Annie; Veteran Villain Is Miss Hannigan
 
Complete casting has been announced for the new national tour of Annie, launching Aug. 21 at Seattle's Paramount Theatre.

Joining the previously mentioned Conrad John Schuck as Daddy Warbucks and Mackenzie Phillips as Lily St. Regis will be newcomer Marissa O'Donnell as Annie and veteran Alene Robertson as Miss Hannigan.

Celebrated as a powerful character actress with a foghorn voice, Robertson created the role of Commissioner Doyle in the musical's Off-Broadway sequel, Annie Warbucks, and played the role in 2004 at Walnut Street Theatre. Her performance is captured on the cast album of Annie Warbucks. She earned a Drama Desk nomination as Doyle.

In her home base of Chicago, Robertson has won nine Joseph Jefferson Awards.

Schuck is a veteran of Broadway and touring productions of the Martin Charnin-Thomas Meehan-Charles Strouse Tony Award-winning musical based on the comic strip "Little Orphan Annie." Phillips is best known for playing troubled daughter Julie on TV's "One Day at a Time."

The 1977 musical follows the adventures of a moppet adopted by billionaire Warbucks in Depression-era New York City. Corrupt orphanage matron Miss Hannigan plots to get a piece of the Warbucks pie, collaborating with her crooked brother, Rooster, and his dim-witted girlfriend, Lily. Elizabeth Broadhurst will place Warbucks' faithful assistant, Grace; Scott Willis will play Rooster.

The cast also includes Allan Baker (FDR), Taylor Bright (July), Julia Cardia (Swing), David Chernault (Drake/Ensemble), Kelly Lynn Cosme (Boylan Sister/Ensemble), Richard Costa (Ensemble), Antionette DiPietropolo (Swing), Brian Michael Hoffman (Dog Catcher/Swing/Dog Handler), Aaron Kaburick (Bundles/Justice Brandeis/Ensemble), Billy Kimmel (Swing), Michelle Knight (Boylin Sister/Ensemble), Monica L. Patton (Star To Be/Ensemble), Katherine Pecevich (Mrs. Pugh/Ensemble), Brittany Portman (Pepper), Liz Power (Ensemble), Ed Romanoff (Ensemble), Lindsay E. Ryan (Molly), Molly J. Ryan (Duffy/U.S. Molly), Harry Turpin (Harold Ickes/Sound Effects Man/Ensemble), Christopher Vettel (Bert Healy/Ensemble/U.S. FDR), Casey Whyland (Tessie), Stevani Alise Weaver (Kate/U.S. Annie).

Lyricist Martin Charnin will direct the revival, which will tour to major markets, including San Diego, Denver, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago and beyond. Engagements for the next year have been announced. Visit www.annieontour.com.

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As previously reported by Playbill.com, this all-new production also features the brand-new song "Why Should I Change a Thing?" (sung by Warbucks) by lyricist Charnin and composer Strouse. It was previously added to an Australian staging and an American mini-tour.

Thomas Meehan penned the libretto. The show's score include the anthem, "Tomorrow," a tonic for a depressed post-Vietnam-era audience.

Tony Award winning set designer Ming Cho Lee "has created a fresh look for this new production," according to the announcement.

Conrad John Schuck began his 40-year career at The Cleveland Play House. Since then he has acted in over 200 productions across the U.S. and Europe. He was plucked from San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre in 1969 by Robert Altman to play Painless in the original "M*A*S*H" motion picture, and a TV ("McMillan and Wife") and film career followed.

On Broadway, he played Daddy Warbucks in the original run of Annie and reprised the role in the recent Broadway revival. Most recently he was Buffalo Bill in Annie Get Your Gun with Reba McEntire. Off Broadway shows include The Exonerated and We the People.

The original Broadway production of Annie won seven 1977 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Book and Score. It ran for 2,377 performances, and has subsequently been produced in all over the world. Charnin has directed major regional and touring revivals of it over the years.

The new production includes the original Broadway musical staging by Peter Gennaro (choreography is by Liza Gennaro), lighting design by Ken Billington, costume design by Theoni Aldredge and sound design by Peter Hylenski. Annie is being presented by executive producer Ken Gentry. The tour is a Networks Tours production.

Annie will play engagements in Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Houston, Pittsburgh, Nashville, Minneapolis and elsewhere. For additional tour dates and more information, visit www.annieontour.com.

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A 2004 staging of Annie, produced by Atlanta's Theatre of the Stars Jan. 14-18 prior to a mini tour, surprised fans of the show with the inclusion of a new song.

The tune, "Why Should I Change a Thing?," made its American premiere with the production that played Atlanta's Fox Theatre, and then Columbus, Hartford and Detroit. The tune by lyricist-director Martin Charnin and composer Charles Strouse, was penned for a 2000 Australian staging that starred Anthony Warlow.

Charnin admitted that keeping the work fresh is important — as long as it doesn't hurt the balance of the show's proven craft.

"I haven't [directed] one in five years," he told Playbill.com in 2004. "The last production I did was in Australia, back in 1999. I've only done the first-class [commercial] productions and the bus and trucks. I've never done a [not-for-profit] regional theatre production. The Australian production was one in which we had the opportunity to write a new song for Warbucks. It was done in Sydney and Melbourne, but what was done [in the U.S.] up until this [Atlanta] production has been the 'old version.'"

Is "Why Should I Change a Thing?" a trunk song or new?

"It's not a trunk song by any stretch of the imagination," Charnin said. "It was written because the guy who played Warbucks in Australia is a wonderful singer named Anthony Warlow. In a kind of genteel way, he said, 'You know it's really a shame that Warbucks doesn't sing as much as I'd like him to.' That was over a lunch meeting when I first cast him. I went away and about two months later I went looking for a place to put this Warlow/Warbucks song in.

"The big problem was to do it without disturbing the fabric of the show, without tilting it in the direction of being a musical about Daddy Warbucks. It has to stay a musical about Annie.

"On one of my train rides from my house in Connecticut to New York, I said to myself, 'Why should I change a thing?' That knocked me on the head: It's a good title for the song and the moment, and that is indeed what it is called. It comes at the end of the first act."

Warbucks' major ballad, "Something Was Missing," remains in the score, as do the other famous songs from the show ("Tomorrow," "It's the Hard-Knock Life"), as well as a sung counterpoint to the title song, "Annie" — the counterpoint lyric was added to the score after the Broadway opening and is not heard on the cast album.

Future licensed scripts and score of Annie will include the new song, Charnin said. A fresh song for Miss Hannigan was written for the 1997 Broadway revival that starred Nell Carter, but the song does not appear in any versions today.

"That song is gone, it's gone, it's gone," Charnin said. "Charles and I have often looked at one another and can't even remember the lyric or the tune."

From Left: Conrad John Schuck, Lola and Marissa O'Donnell
From Left: Conrad John Schuck, Lola and Marissa O'Donnell Photo by Carol Rosegg
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