THE LEADING MEN: Aussie Anthony Warlow Keeps It Real as Annie's Daddy Warbucks

By Kenneth Jones
07 Nov 2012

Lilla Crawford and Warlow in Annie.
Photo by Joan Marcus

In the past Annie productions that I have seen, Warbucks is reluctant to have physical contact with Annie — he doesn't know how to interact with a girl. He might break her. There is a tactile arc to their relationship.
AW: In the early days of rehearsal, we — particularly Grace and Warbucks — were told not to touch. We don't want to touch this kid. That was really hard to play because my instincts were to touch the kid — even just to say, "Come on, now, away from here." There's that telling moment when she goes to the beggar [in "NYC"], and he grabs her to say, "No, no, no, no, no… That's a smelly, bad person." And she doesn't care. She says, "Give him some money." That's one of the first little chinks in the armor.

She falls asleep at the end of "NYC" and Warbucks cradles her and carries her off.
AW: What I've played with is that picking her up is [like] carrying this thing, and she flops, and then [I'm thinking], "What do I do with this? Oh, what the hell am I doing here?" That's a sweet moment.

You love finding these moments and shaping them.
AW: That's why I'm here. The challenge for me is to find a real flesh-and-blood spirit that embodies a character that, with all due respect — and I've spoken to [librettist] Thomas Meehan about this — was somewhat scantily written.

I've never heard "Something Was Missing" sung so beautifully. You give it much more of a tenor take that reveals a very sweet core to this tough man. Sound becomes character.
AW: Absolutely! I'm so pleased you picked up on that. I always come from a point of lyric. That's the way I sing my stuff, and I wanted that to be the epiphany moment for him — what you see is the heart of the man. That's the moment. I chose to put in two falsetto moments, not because singing the F is hard — it's not — but I wanted to actually remember that I'm talking to this little girl, and I don't want to actually overpower her with Warbucks; I want to overpower her with Warbucks' heart, and that's the reason for [those notes]. Of course, the hero does come out in the end — [with] the big Broadway, give-'em-the-money-notes that are at the end of the song. It's a challenge to sing. It's not presentational at all. James said, "Sing everything to her. It's about her." I said, "Well, I know it's a duet." It really is a duet, and that makes it even more poignant.