I always find it fascinating how stories that you know (and love) can still resinate to new audience. No matter how many times it’s been adapted.
Which brings us to Annie: Live! The return of the live musical since 2019. This is the 10th adaptation of the comic strip by Harold Gray. And fourth adaptation of the stage musical by Charles Strouse, Martin Charnin and Thomas Meehan. This version uses elements from the stage play and the 1982 film.
So what did I like about this new adaptation?
The Backstage Elements! People who love theatre know it’s takes alot more than a commercial break and a different camera angle to make things happen. Especially in a musical. Showing things like costume changes, backstage crew and microphones is a nice touch to the “live musical” experience. Even the audience is used in a scene. And not in an annoying way like past live shows. This live musical is the closest you would get to seeing the show in person.
Diverse Casting. I was so happy to see such a diverse cast. From the multicultural cast and creative team, to having an actor with a disability play President Roosevelt. I have no other words on it. It just made me happy.
How the show relates to today. Annie takes place during the Great Depression. Loss of jobs, unemployment and companies being shut down are brought up. A president being blamed is also mentioned, sound familiar. Even Broadway “getting back on its feet” is met with applause. It’s a little eerie how most this correlates to the past couple of years.
Celina Smith as Annie. Her portrayal is different that previous Annie’s. Less tough girl more young grown up. Acting more as a big sister to the other girls in the orphanage. But also more innocent and vulnerable when gets to the Warbucks mansion. She’s still very spunky, but with a softer side. A great performance.
“We got Annie”. When Nicole Scherzinger was cast as Grace, I scratched my head. Then I remembered this number from the 1982 film. It paid a loving tribute to the late Ann Reinking, even down to Grace’s costumes. Nicole Scherzinger actually surprised me as a whole as Grace. She was sweet, kind and very funny. I was very impressed overall with her performance. A true doll.
Honerable Mention goes to Taraji P. Henson as Mrs. Hannigan. Her line delivery is a little hit or miss but she is performing for the back row! She’s having so much fun in this role! Hilarious!
The only dislike I have is the set. I get the tribute to the comic strip and old school musicals. But sometimes it looks a little flat. This is just a small thing, and they really used the space for the dance numbers. Sometimes it works, like the orphanage and the radio station. But scenes in the mansion and the streets of New York, I kind of wanted more
So what’s my opinion of Annie: Live. It was so cute. I smiled and sung along the entire time. It is a love letter not only to the original stage play, but the 1982 film. I think it’s one of the best live musicals so far. You can see the dedication and hard work. You can also see everyone just having a good time. And after these recent times, we need a good time.
“Annie: Live” is available for streaming on Peacock or on NBC.com