National Tour of Annie Will Boast New Song, Sung by Veteran Warbucks; TV Star Plays Lily

News   National Tour of Annie Will Boast New Song, Sung by Veteran Warbucks; TV Star Plays Lily
 
A new national tour of the musical Annie will launch at Seattle's Paramount Theatre Aug. 21, with Conrad John Schuck as Daddy Warbucks and Mackenzie Phillips as Lily St. Regis.

Additional casting has not been announced. Schuck is a veteran of Broadway and touring productions of the Martin Charnin-Charles Strouse Tony Award-winner. Phillips is best known for playing troubled daughter Julie on TV's "One Day at a Time."

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.

The 1977 musical is based on the comic strip "Little Orphan Annie," and 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.

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

Martin Charnin will direct. 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.

Mackenzie Phillips was 12 when she appeared In the film "American Graffiti." Her recent stage appearances include The Vagina Monologues in New York City, as well as a starring role in the national tour of Grease and Same Time, Next Year. She also reprised her role of Rizzo in Grease on Broadway. Born into a legendary musical family, Phillips is also a singer and songwriter. Her father, John Phillips, was the founder of the '60s vocal group The Mamas and The Papas.

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.

The new production's creative team includes the original Broadway musical staging by Peter Gennaro, choreography 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.

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.

That staging marked the 16th time Charnin directed the show, and he 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."

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