When it premiered on Broadway, in the wake of Vietnam, inflation and Watergate, the musical inspired by the Jazz Age comic strip "Little Orphan Annie" was a refreshing tonic gulped by parched critics and theatregoers alike. At its center was a little girl belting a song called "Tomorrow," an anthem of hope that became known worldwide.
Annie — which featured a funny-mean orphan matron named Miss Hannigan, her bad-guy brother, an industrialist named Warbucks (no question of how he made his money), his kindly secretary, a mutt named Sandy, a clutch of cute moppets and an appearance by President Franklin Roosevelt — would win Tonys for Best Musical, Best Book (Thomas Meehan) and Best Score (composer Charles Strouse and lyricist Martin Charnin). In the decades that followed Annie, the previously underemployed Meehan became the go-to book writer for Broadway musicals, including the Tony-winning Hairspray and The Producers.
This new staging at the Palace Theatre starred two-time Tony Award winner Katie Finneran (Noises Off and Promises, Promises) as frazzled Miss Hannigan, who laments about "Little Girls" and cooks up a scheme with her brother to outwit Warbucks and land on "Easy Street" (the climax of which incorporates a new visual surprise).
Annie also starred Australian actor Anthony Warlow (who has played major opera and musical-theatre roles around the globe) making his Broadway debut as Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks; 11-year-old Lilla Crawford (who appeared in Broadway's Billy Elliot) as Annie; with Brynn O'Malley (Broadway's Wicked, Sunday in the Park With George) as Warbucks' personal assistant, Grace Farrell; Clarke Thorell (Hairspray) as scheming Rooster Hannigan; and J. Elaine Marcos (Priscilla Queen of the Desert) as Rooster's girlfriend Lily St. Regis.
For more about the new Broadway production, visit AnnieTheMusical.com.