Principal casting is nearly complete for the upcoming 25th anniversary production of Annie at Paper Mill: State Theatre of New Jersey. A spokesman for the production confirmed the following news.
Heading the cast in the title role as the spunky young red-headed orphan is Sarah Hyland, who played Molly in the Rob Marshall-directed TV film of the Thomas Meehan-Charles Strouse-Martin Charnin musical. Catherine Cox, who starred on Broadway in Footloose, Rumors and Baby, will play the evil Miss Hannigan, and her brother, Rooster, will be played by veteran Broadway actor Jim (Merrily We Roll Along, The Music Man, 42nd Street) Walton. Rooster's girlfriend, Lily St. Regis, will be portrayed by Tia Speros, who was one of the original Taffetas in Off-Broadway's The Taffetas and who appeared in the Paper Mill production of Rags.
Crista Moore, the Tony-nominated star of Big and Gypsy, will portray Warbucks' assistant Grace, and Kiss Me, Kate's Eric Michael Gillett has been cast as President Roosevelt. Casting is still underway for the pivotal role of Daddy Warbucks, although the ensemble will include two Broadway regulars, Ken Kantor (Guys and Dolls, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) and Anna McNeely (Gypsy, Beauty and the Beast, Cats).
Featuring direction by Greg Ganakas, choreography by Linda Goodrich and musical direction by Tom Helm, Annie begins previews at the Paper Mill on Oct. 30. The official opening night is scheduled for Nov. 1, and the Tony-winning musical will run through Dec. 8.
Ganakas is currently represented at the Goodspeed Opera House with his production of Babes in Arms. For Goodspeed Musicals, he has also directed The Pajama Game, Brigadoon and George M! Ganakas also staged productions for Long Wharf Theatre, North Shore Music Theatre, American Musical Theatre of San Jose (Dean Goodman Award), Ordway Music Theatre, Sacramento Civic Light Opera and Sharon Stage. Linda Goodrich choreographed the national tour of Singin’ in the Rain. She began her career re-creating the dances for a European tour of Cabaret after performing in the Broadway revival. She has choreographed several productions at the Music Theatre of Wichita, and her work has also been seen at Goodspeed Opera House, North Shore Music Theatre, Long Beach Civic Light Opera, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, and Sacramento Music Circus.
Featuring a book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin, Annie is based on the famed comic-strip character who begins an orphan and ends up the daughter of a billionaire. The original Broadway production opened in April 1977 and made a star out of its first Annie, Andrea McArdle. The show won the Tony Award for Best Musical.
Paper Mill: State Theatre of New Jersey is located on Brookside Drive in Millburn, NJ. For more information, go to www.papermill.org
—By Andrew Gans