PLAYBILL PICKS REVISITED: A Dozen Actresses We'd Like to See Play Miss Hannigan in the Broadway Revival of Annie

By Playbill Staff
February 24, 2013

With the recent announcement that Emmy Award-winning actress Jane Lynch, known for playing a bullying cheer coach on TV's "Glee," will take over the role of orphanage matron Miss Hannigan in Broadway's Annie May 16-July 14, we offer a look back at our February 2012 feature suggesting a few of the actresses we'd like to see take on the role of Miss Hannigan, the part created to Tony-winning effect by the late Dorothy Loudon in the original 1977 production. (Okay, so we completely overlooked two-time Tony winner Katie Finneran, who won the role, but we did suggest Lynch!)

Here, in no particular order, are the baker's dozen of multi-talented performers we initially suggested for the role of the lovably evil orphanage matron. (The revival, directed by Tony Award winner James Lapine, plays the Palace Theatre.)



 Andrea McArdle

 

 Andrea McArdle originated the title role in the premiere Broadway production of Annie and was able to learn from the best, playing opposite Loudon eight times a week. McArdle has also gotten the chance to play Miss Hannigan in a few regional productions, and it would be a great full-circle Broadway moment to have her back in the musical's revival.  

 

 

Rosie O'Donnell

 

 O'Donnell, who has gotten a chance to strut her stuff in the Broadway revivals of Grease and Fiddler on the Roof, has publicly expressed interest in the part, and as anyone who's watched either of her talk shows knows, there is no Broadway champion like her.  

 

 Betty Buckley

 Miss Hannigan is an angel compared to Margaret White, the mother of Carrie, who Buckley played with intensity in the original production of the cult-classic musical. And, then there's that singular voice. One can almost hear the Tony winner belting out "Easy Street."

 Kristin Chenoweth

 

  We know she's busy with her new series "GCB," but Chenoweth, who manages to score laughs even when there are none, would simply be a hoot as Miss Hannigan. Anyone who's watched her performances on "Glee" knows she can play a drunk to perfection.

 

 

Beth Leavel

 

 Leavel won her Tony for her humorous performance in the title role of The Drowsy Chaperone, and, more recently, even managed to come off well in the short-lived Baby It's You! She would no doubt wring out every bit of humor in "Little Girls."

 

 

 Lillias White

 

 White won her Tony for playing the been-around-the-block prostitute Sonja in Cy Coleman's The Life, and she could no doubt infuse Miss Hannigan with the same world-weariness. The gospel-voiced actress would also sing the Martin Charnin-Charles Strouse score thrillingly.

 

 

 Andrea Martin

 Is there any actress funnier than Andrea Martin? With just a glance, she can send audiences into convulsions of laughter, so she would undoubtedly draw laugh after laugh from the Thomas Meehan book. Just imagining the faces she would make during "Little Girls" gets us laughing already.

 

Elaine Paige

 

 West End star Paige, who stopped the show each night in the recent revival of Follies, was a comical, sinister Mrs. Lovett in the New York City Opera production of Sweeney Todd, and she could bring similar qualities to the evil Miss Hannigan. Paige is simply great fun to watch on stage, and her powerhouse vocals would be another asset for the revival.

 

 Jane Lynch

 

With all the screaming and scheming that Sue Sylvester, Lynch's character in the mammoth hit "Glee," does over at McKinley High, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch for her to plot against Annie and her gang of orphans in 1930s NYC. Also, a recent TV commercial featured Lynch bursting into a Nook-inspired musical number in Barnes and Noble. Clearly, she has the vocal chops.

 

Tyne Daly

 

 Daly offered winning performances in her two major New York musical theatre outings: the 1989 Broadway revival of Gypsy and the City Center Encores!  mounting of Call Me Madam. She also recently tore up the stage in the Broadway revival of Master Class, and we'd love to see how she would bring her many talents to the role of Miss Hannigan.


 

Bernadette Peters

 

   Two-time Tony winner Peters played against type in the 2003 Broadway revival of Gypsy, earning a rave from The New York Times and a Tony nomination for her performance. She was also a terrific Lily St. Regis in the film version of Annie, and Peters, who possesses superb comic timing, would no doubt bring her unique brand of magic to the role of Miss Hannigan.  

 

 Patti LuPone

 

  C'mon, who wouldn't want to hear LuPone belt "Little Girls" and "Easy Street" to the rafters while finding all the dramatic and comedic potential in Miss Hannigan?  

 

 Christine Ebersole

 

  Like the rest of the gals mentioned, we think Ebersole can play just about any part there is. Her comedic chops combined with that beautiful, soaring voice would make audiences (and us) very happy.

And, let's not forget Donna Murphy and Randy Graff and Ann Harada and Karen Mason and Ellen Greene and Faith Prince.......... and Elaine Stritch -- we'd drink to that!