Joanna Pacitti, the 12-year-old Philadelphian fired from the title role of the Broadway Annie revival, sang "Over the Rainbow" on the "Rosie O'Donnell Show" March 4, but made no mention of the firing.
O'Donnell and Pacitti were expected to discuss the girl's firing from the musical and replacement by 8-year-old Brittny Kissinger, and Pacitti's resulting announced intention to sue the producers for $10-50 million. No lawsuit was filed as of March 5.
Instead, Pacitti, wearing red culottes, sang the Judy Garland standard, after which the talk show host congratulated her on her voice. During a brief intervew, Pacitti said her "singing idols" are Barbra Streisand (also an O'Donnell favorite), Frank Sinatra, John Travolta, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. She also sang a snatch of "Ain't She Sweet," which she said she also used to perform for tips in her father's barbershop.
"With a voice like that, you're going places," O'Donnell said.
The New York Post reported March 5 that job offers have been pouring in for Pacitti, and that she'd auditioned for Disney Theatricals, possibly for its upcoming production of The Lion King. The story could not be confirmed March 5 with spokespersons for Disney or the show. The story behind Pacitti's firing continues to take interesting twists. First it was revealed that a similar situation occured with the original production, which originated at Goodspeed Opera House. The 1976 Goodspeed Annie, Kristen Vigard, was succeeded by Andrea McArdle for Broadway in 1977.
Now, it turns out, Pacitti herself had left another Goodspeed production, Paper Moon, shorthanded when she departed the summer 1996 production in previews to take the role in Annie. Paper Moon alternate Lindsay Cummings then had to take over the demanding role, solo, just two weeks before opening night, Goodspeed spokesperson Jennifer Wislocki confirmed.
In the hourlong "Turning Point" TV documentary about Annie, the Paper Moon poster was visible hanging on the wall of Pacitti's father's barbershop.
Based on the film Paper Moon and the novel Addie Pray, the musical is the story of little orphan Addie, who takes up with a traveling con man whom she believes to be her father. Cummings, an 11-year-old Philadelphian, has since played the role at Walnut Theatre in Philadelphia, and opens in the musical March 14 at Ford's Theatre in Washington DC. The production reportedly is being considered for Broadway.
-- By Robert Viagas