‘Annie’ Gets New ‘Live!’ Musical Set to Air on NBC This Winter

by Suzanne Halliburton

Annie Live! could be perfect for the holidays. NBC announced Thursday that it will broadcast the beloved musical live to a television audience.

Look out for Annie and Daddy Warbucks to bring Christmas cheer, although there is no official air date, as yet. But it’ll be the next big musical production for the network, which likes to give its audience these sorts of shows. TV audiences love them. But the network hasn’t produced one since 2018, when it broadcast Jesus Christ Superstar on Easter Sunday. The show drew an audience of 9.4 million viewers.

NBC didn’t announce casting for Annie Live!. Presumably, the show will draw some high-octane performers. Jesus Christ Superstar featured John Legend as Jesus, Alice Cooper as King Herod and Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene.

Robert Greenblatt is executive producer of Annie Live! He’ll join Neil Meron, who also was EP for two other NBC live musicals, The Sound of Music Live! and Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert.

According to Deadline, Lear deBessonet will direct Annie Live!. He’s the artistic director for Encores. He also created Public Works program at the Public Theatre. The choreographer is Sergio Trujillo. And Paul Tazewell, who worked on The Wiz Live! and Jesus Christ Superstar, is the costume designer. He recently finished the costumes for Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story.

Jason Sherwood is in charge of scenery design. He held similar jobs for the production of the 2020 Academy Awards and Rent Live!

Annie Live! Was a Comic Strip Turned Broadway Play

Annie Live! is an updated version of the stage play, which opened on Broadway in 1977. And the stage play was based on the cartoon Little Orphan Annie, which first ran in 1924.

The show won seven Tonys. And it featured a reworking of the classic songs Tomorrow and It’s the Hard Knock Life. There also were movie adaptions in 1982, 1999 and 2014.

Andrea McArdle played the first Annie on Broadway. She received a Tony nomination for Best Lead Actress in a Musical. But co-star Dorothy Loudon, who played Miss Hannigan, won the Tony.

Although Annie first appeared as a character in the 1920s, the first Annie musical was set during the Great Depression at the Municipal Girls Orphanage. Annie escapes the orphanage and befriends a dog named Sandy. Later on in the play, Daddy Warbucks, a billionaire, decides he needs to adopt Annie. He takes her to Washington, D.C. and she sings Tomorrow for President Franklin Roosevelt.