“Annie” has been charming the world for over a hundred years. This story about a young orphan has always given people optimism and hope from its beginning as a poem, to a comic strip, and then to a musical. The stage adaptation elevated the popularity of Annie to pop culture and has remained so for nearly 40 years. It is not a secret that its mainstream success is attributed to its heartwarming story, added by the memorable song numbers and adorable young performers of the musical. Just the opening line of the song “Tomorrow” invokes a different feeling of nostalgia and optimism. Witness “the sun will come out tomorrow” as the feel-good musical takes center stage at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. Coming in the spring of 2023, Annie will make your hard-knock life a little bit better!
“There’s a lot to love in this production — but maybe Miss Hannigan could have done with a little less.” — NY Post
“Incredibly warm, charming and full of heart, this production of Annie is an absolute joy to watch.” — theatrefansmanila.com
The mastermind for bringing this classic to the stage is lyricist-director Martin Charnin. It is known that the discovery of Annie’s tale was unexpected. While buying gifts for a friend on Christmas in 1970, Charnin bought a compiled comic book entitled “Little Orphan Annie.” This chronicled the adventures of a brave redheaded girl whose high-spirited nature was a hit among adult readers. The director fell in love with the comic’s plot surrounding the wide-ranging experiences of the protagonist, her dog Sandy and her benefactor Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks.
Martin Charnin wasted no time and immediately secured the comics’ rights. In the following years, he worked with writer Thomas Meehan and composer Charles Strouse for the stage adaptation.
Meehan wrote an original story based on the comics, which became very popular. It follows eleven-year-old Annie, who is orphaned. Living during the 1930s Great Depression, the orphanage which housed her was in a sorry state and run by awful adults. Subsequently, Annie tries to escape to find her parents, but her attempts are futile. However, her stay in the orphanage gave her an opportunity to overcome such terrible experiences.
The delightful plot has always been a highlight of Annie; however, its music is truly a masterpiece. Hopeful and powerful “Tomorrow” is the musical’s most famous song. For those who have not seen the musical, this song is indicative of how good this work of art is. With songs regarded as classics, it will not be challenging to realize why the musical is such a favorite.
The original Broadway production opened at the Alvin Theatre on April 21, 1977. The show ran for nearly six years, setting a record for the Alvin Theatre (now the Neil Simon Theatre). Starring Andrea McArdle as Annie, Reid Shelton as Warbucks, Dorothy Loudon as Miss Hannigan, and Sandy Faison as Grace Farrell, the musical was a monumental success during its time.
Its success was instant, and other productions followed through the years. The West End production followed on May 3, 1978. On the musical’s 20th anniversary in 1997, “Annie” was revived on Broadway. In 1998, a West End revival also followed. From 2001 to 2010, tours occurred extensively. Another Broadway and West End revival came in 2012 and 2017, respectively. In addition, the musical has productions worldwide, including in Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Sweden, South Korea, the Philippines, Zimbabwe, and Germany, among many other countries.
Through the years, the musical has received many awards. It bagged eight wins during the 1977 Tony Awards, including “Best Musical” and “Best Original Score.” On the other hand, the 1977 Drama Desk Awards gave the musical six awards, most especially for “Outstanding Musical.” The following year, it won the “Best Cast Show Album” category of the Grammy Awards. Furthermore, several award-giving bodies recognized the subsequent productions.
The success of the original production led to other forms of media adapting the musical. “Annie” has been recreated multiple times in TV and films. Starting with the popular 1982 film. Its most recent is the live TV production of NBC, which aired in December 2021. Although it received mixed reviews from both fans and critics, Annie proved to be a timeless and universal story that reflects the importance of being optimistic despite all the challenges life throws at us. Annie is a musical about finding joy despite overwhelming adversity. This is a musical we all need night now. Perhaps, we need to be reminded of the narrative of an optimistic little girl who, despite spending ten years in an orphanage, still manages to keep her head held high and her smile wide.
“For all the freight of timeliness, this remains a sweet spot of a family musical, full of adorable, but not sticky-adorable, waifs punching the air with their teeny fists and belting ‘Tomorrow’ over and over until every cynic within earshot might be a believer.” — Newsday
Starring Ellie Pulsifer as Annie, Stephanie London as Miss Hannigan, Christopher Swan as Daddy Warbucks, Julia Nicole as Grace Farrell, and Nick Bernardi as Rooster Hannigan, among many other star-studded casts, Annie is coming to the Cadillac Palace Theatre on March 7 to March 19, 2023. All you musical enthusiasts, mark your calendars and grab your tickets because the sun will come out this spring for the iconic Annie The Musical. Grab your tickets now!