Vaudeville Theatre Company
We bring Cebuano talents to the spotlight.
Annie is based on the popular comic strip by Harold Gray, “Little Orphan Annie”, which ran in the New York Daily News beginning in the 1920s and, by the 30s and 40s, was one of the most widely read comic strips around. Lyricist Martin Charnin was given a book of “Little Orphan Annie” comic strips as a Christmas gift in 1971, and was inspired to create a musical comedy based on the main character.
The idea was pitched to Tony-winning composer Charles Strouse and a short story writer for the New Yorker, Thomas Meehan. With a full writing team assembled, the show was written in just fourteen months. The road to Broadway, however, would ultimately take four years, due to a lack of interest from producers.
Annie first premiered on August 10, 1976, at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut. Kristen Vigard was initially cast in the title role. However, producers felt that her portrayal was too sweet for a street-smart orphan. After one week, Vigard was replaced by Andrea McArdle, who was originally cast in the role of Pepper.
The production moved to the Kennedy Center in Washington, and ultimately opened at the Alvin Theatre on Broadway on April 21, 1977. The cast featured Andrea McArdle as Annie, Reid Shelton as Daddy Warbucks, Dorothy Loudon as Miss Hannigan, and Sandy Faison as Grace Farrell. On Broadway, Annie proved highly successful: it was nominated for eleven Tony awards, and won seven of them, including Best Musical. The show closed on January 2, 1983, after a total of 2,377 performances, holding the record for the longest-running show at the Alvin Theatre (now the Neil Simon Theatre), until it was surpassed in 2009 by Hairspray. During the original Broadway run, there were four touring companies launched. The musical premiered in the West End at the Victoria Palace Theatre on May 3, 1978. The show ran for three years and closed after a total of 1,485 performances. A 1997 Broadway revival to commemorate the 20th anniversary played at the Martin Beck Theatre. Unfortunately, controversy surrounding the casting of Annie, paired with negative reviews, forced the performance to close after just 14 previews and 239 performances. A West End revival also took place at the Victoria Palace, running from September 30, 1998 to February 28, 1999.
In a 2000 Australian tour played in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. Anthony Warlow starred as Daddy Warbucks. A new song, “Why Should I Change a Thing?” was written for Warlow, which is now included as an optional number in the licensed script. The most recent Broadway revival began previews on October 3, 2012 at the Palace Theatre starring Lilla Crawford in the title role, with notable replacements including Jane Lynch and Faith Prince as Miss Hannigan. It closed on January 5, 2014 after 38 previews and 487 regular performances.
Annie has been adapted to film four times. The 1982 Oscar-nominated film starred Albert Finney as Warbucks, Carol Burnett as Miss Hannigan, Bernadette Peters as Lily, and Tim Curry as Rooster. A 1999 TV-movie adaptation featured Victor Garber, Kathy Bates, Kristin Chenoweth, and Alan Cumming, and a modern day reworking debuted in 2014, with Annie (young Academy Award nominee, Quvenzhane Wallis) now living with foster mother Miss Hannigan (played by Cameron Diaz) before going to spend time with billionaire Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) to help improve his image in his bid for mayor of New York City; the film only used some of the songs from the original show, updating them to a more urban feel.
Also available from MTI are Annie, Jr., a 60-minute, one-act version for young performers; Annie KIDS, a 30-minute version, and Annie Warbucks, a sequel to the original, featuring a new book by Thomas Meehan, and score by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin.
It is early December 1933, shortly after 3:00 AM. In the New York City Municipal Orphanage, the littlest orphan, Molly (age 6), cries out for her mother. The other orphans in the room — Kate, the next to littlest, who is 7; Tessie, the cry baby, who is 10; Pepper, the toughest, who is 12; July, the quietest, who is 13; and Duffy, the biggest, who is 13 — wake up and a fight ensues between Pepper and July. Annie, who is 11, has been up cleaning and breaks up the fight. She comforts Molly with the note that her parents left her when she was left at the orphanage. It says that she was “born on October 28th. We will be back to get her soon. We have left half of a silver locket around her neck and kept the other half so that when we come back for her you will know that she’s our baby.” Molly tells Annie that she dreams of having parents again but that Annie is lucky because she really has parents (“Maybe”).
As a far-away church bell chimes 4:00 AM, Annie decides that she will make another attempt to run-away from the orphanage and find her parents. As she gets close to the front door, Miss Hannigan, the orphanage matron, appears and catches her in the act. For Annie’s disobedience, Miss Hannigan orders all the orphans to scrub the floor, strip their beds and “clean this dump until it shines like the top of the Chrysler Building” (“It's the Hard Knock Life”). Miss Hannigan soon returns, blowing her whistle despite her huge hangover, to inspect the room. As the orphans line-up next to their beds, Annie is hatching another plan to run-away. Bundles McCloskey, a laundry man, has arrived to deliver a load of clean sheets. When Miss Hannigan flirts with Bundles and invites him to eat egg foo yung in Chinatown on Christmas, Annie sneaks into his laundry bag. He leaves the orphanage with Annie in tow (“It's the Hard Knock Life – Reprise”). That afternoon, on a street corner at St Mark’s Place, Annie notices two dog catchers in pursuit of stray dogs and finds Sandy, a dog searching for food in the garbage pail. She signals for the dog to come and ensures him that they both won’t get caught (“Tomorrow”).
Lt. Ward, suspicious about Annie being Sandy’s owner, asks her to call the dog to see if it will answer to his name. After a third try, Sandy answers to her and Lt. Ward tells her to have a leash and a license the next time he sees her.
At dusk, Annie and Sandy find themselves in a Hooverville, a Depression-style shanty town of jerry rigged shacks at the edge of the East River, underneath the 59th Street Bridge. Annie asks the Hooverville-ites if they have seen her parents. Sophie, an Apple Annie sort of woman, tells Annie that there is nothing to be optimistic about, given their situation (“We'd Like To Thank You, Herbert Hoover”). As they return to their chores, Lt. Ward tells the “bums to move out” and the police break up the Hooverville.
Back at the Orphanage, Miss Hannigan is blowing her whistle at the orphans telling them, “that’s all the fresh air you get for the month.” Meanwhile, the orphans tell her that Molly threw up on her “favorite shiny satin pillow from Coney Island” and Kate holds a dead mouse to her face. Frustrated, Miss Hannigan orders them back to work and sings about her distaste for them (“Little Girls”).
As Miss Hannigan settles in to listen to her radio show, Lt. Ward arrives to return Annie, informing her that she was found in a Hooverville with a dog that got away. After Lt. Ward leaves, Annie is left in Miss Hannigan’s office when Grace Farrell, secretary to Oliver Warbucks, arrives. Grace tells Miss Hannigan that Warbucks would like to invite an orphan to spend the Christmas holidays at his home.
Annie manipulates the conversation by getting Grace to tell Miss Hannigan that Warbucks in interested in having an 11-year-old red-headed child. Miss Hannigan is reluctant to let Annie go until Grace tells her that she is aware of the incident with the laundry bag and the police. (“Little Girls – Reprise”). Annie and Grace arrive at the Warbucks’ Mansion and Grace tells Annie that she won’t have to clean while she is staying there (“I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here”). Oliver Warbucks returns home after a six-week trip with his mind so focused on work that he does not notice Annie. After he is introduced to Annie, he feels uncomfortable in her presence. He orders Grace to take the child to the movies but after seeing Annie’s imploring puppy dog eyes, Warbucks is won over and decides to accompany her to the movie.
Warbucks decides that since Annie has been cooped up in an orphanage, they will walk to the movie theatre, the Roxy. Grace, Warbucks and Annie encounter different types of New York City citizens on their way to the theatre, including an up and coming actress who has just moved to the city (“N.Y.C.”). When they finally arrive at the theatre, Annie is half asleep; Warbucks and Grace decide to carry her home.
A week passes and Grace has returned to the orphanage to tell Miss Hannigan that Warbucks has decided to adopt Annie. As Grace leaves she runs into Rooster — Miss Hannigan’s wayward brother — and his girlfriend, Lily, who have come to borrow money from Miss Hannigan. As Rooster recalls bumping into Grace, he asks Miss Hannigan about her. Upon learning about Annie’s situation, they begin to plot ways to exploit it for their own gain (“Easy Street”). Back at the Warbucks’ mansion, Grace informs Warbucks that the Tiffany’s jewelry box has arrived and that the papers have been signed for Annie’s adoption (according to the script, an optional song: “Why Should I Change a Thing?” sung by Warbucks, is inserted here). Annie is called into Warbucks’ office and given the present from Tiffany’s: a new silver locket. Warbucks goes to remove Annie’s old tattered locket, but is interrupted when she bursts into tears.
Annie explains that her locket is the only thing her parents left for her at the orphanage. Touched, Warbucks promises to find her parents so they can be reunited (“You Won’t Be an Orphan for Long”).
Annie is appearing on a live radio program called, “The Oxydent Hour of Smiles, starring Bert Healy” with Oliver Warbucks. He is offering a certified check for 50,000 dollars to anyone who can prove that they are Annie’s parents. Despite Warbucks’ disruptive behavior on the radio show, the radio cast ends the show with their signature song (“You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile”). Back at the orphanage, the orphans are listening to Annie on the radio and make believe that they are the Hour of Smiles cast (“You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile – Reprise”). Miss Hannigan, upset at hearing happy orphans, barges in on the girls and finds out that Warbucks is offering a large reward for Annie’s parents. Frustrated, Miss Hannigan finds a Ralph and Shirley Mudge in her office. They claim to be Annie’s parents and are looking to take her home. As they share their story about leaving their child so they could head to Canada to look for work, they slowly reveal that they are actually Rooster Hannigan and Lily in disguise. Although Rooster tries to get Miss Hannigan to agree to a three-way split for the reward money, she will only agree to a two way split for the information she has about Annie (“Easy Street – Reprise”).
Warbucks has a meeting with President Franklin D. Roosevelt regarding the state of the economy. Although the cabinet and Warbucks would like Annie to sit outside, the President requests that Annie stay. During their discussion, Annie interjects telling the politicians that, “the sun’ll come out tomorrow” (“Tomorrow – Cabinet Reprise”). As they wrap up the meeting, Warbucks gets a telegram to return to New York immediately. The politicians find inspiration in Annie’s song leading them to conjure up a new federal project called, “The New Deal”.
Back at Warbucks’ mansion, Grace informs Warbucks and Annie that despite the hundreds of couples that were interviewed, none of them knew about the locket. The F.B.I. also found that her locket was one of ninety thousand made and there will be no chance in tracing her parents with it. Warbucks, in an attempt to cheer her up, tells her the one thing missing in his life was her (“Something Was Missing”). Suddenly he leaps into action, asking Grace for the adoption papers. Drake goes to call Judge Brandeis and the servants to prepare for a large celebration. Annie asks for Miss Hannigan and the girls to be invited to the party and — accompanied by Cecile and Annette — she leaves to get “spiffed up” (“I Don’t Need Anything but You”).
Judge Brandeis arrives and as they prepare to sign the adoption papers, Rooster and Lily, disguised as Ralph and Shirley Mudge, enter. In order to claim Annie, they provide their driver’s licenses, Annie’s birth certificate and the other half to Annie’s broken locket. Skeptical about their story, Warbucks asks the couple to leave Annie for the evening and to pick her — and their certified check — up in the morning. They agree and as they exit, Grace seems to remember meeting the “Mudges” somewhere else. Warbucks raises his glass to finally finding Annie’s parents but she is upset and runs to her room.
President Roosevelt arrives in time to see Annie exit and a frustrated Warbucks asks for his help. The next morning, Grace, Warbucks and Roosevelt tell Annie that the F.B.I. was able to trace Annie’s parents with the handwriting on her note. Her parents are not Ralph and Shirley Mudge but David and Margaret Bennett, who passed away long ago. As they realize that the only way the Mudges could have known about the locket was from Miss Hannigan, Hannigan herself arrives with the orphans for the Christmas Party. As Warbucks introduces Miss Hannigan and the orphans to the President and his servants, Mr. and Mrs. Mudge enter to take Annie — and the check — home. When Warbucks hands “Ralph Mudge” the check, it reads: pay to the order of “the jig is up.” As Rooster and Lily get arrested for fraud, Miss Hannigan instructs the orphans to sing “Deck the Halls” and states that she doesn’t know them. Despite her pleas to Annie to tell them how good she was to her, Miss Hannigan is arrested and taken away with Rooster and Lily.
Annie introduces the orphans to everyone: Grace, Warbucks, the servants and the President. Warbucks announces that Miss Hannigan is gone for good and that the girls will no longer work but will go to school. Annie and the orphans are most excited that they will have no more mush. Warbucks declares that “this Christmas is going to be the beginning of a wonderful new life (“A New Deal for Christmas”).