I have been thinking about what first started my love for theatre, and I have to give credit to the show that started it all for me: Annie. When I was a child, Annie was definitely one of my favorite movies and musicals. Annie was one of the first musicals I also remember seeing: I saw the 1997 Broadway revival with Brittny Kissinger as Annie. This week, I wanted to take a trip down memory lane and talk about my personal history with the show. Here are a few anecdotes about my time in the musical Annie (hence the name Steph-Annie-Dotes)!
Annie, the musical about our favorite spunky red-headed orphan, opened on Broadway in 1977. It closed in 1983 after 2,377 performances. Two touring productions of the musical started the following year. One was a national tour, and the other was the Los Angeles production. The LA production closed in 1979 and the national tour kept going until 1981. A movie version was released in 1982 with Aileen Quinn as Annie. This version was my childhood introduction to the story and my favorite of the three movies. Annie, the 20th anniversary production, opened on Broadway in 1997 and closed that same year after only 14 previews and 239 performances. Disney made a TV version of the musical in 1999, and even as a child, I loved how this version was more true to the musical than the original movie. However, not even Audra McDonald as Grace will top Ann Reinking’s original performance for me. From 2005 to 2010, four tours of the musical ran across the United States. The 35th anniversary production of the musical opened on Broadway in 2012 and closed in 2014 after 38 previews and 487 performances. The latest remake of Annie was in 2014. Will Smith worked as the producer, and Jay Z added some new songs to the movie.
Annie is not only one of my favorite musicals from childhood, the show was also my first time performing in a musical with the Community Theatre group. My role was an Orphan Dancer, one of the three groups of orphans in the production. The rehearsal process was fun because the cast included wide variety of ages, ranging from 6-17 years. We all became friends. I was always able to do the choreography (involving a bucket) and felt prepared for each show. During one of the shows, everything was going fine for the first part of “It’s the Hard Knock Life.” For that song, we had to dance with a red bucket and flip it over to rest on the stage. We would then continue to dance around it. Alas, in my exuberance, I ended up tipping my bucket off the stage and into the audience! The only thing I could do was go on with the rest of the number. However, I did manage to hold onto the bristle brush that accompanied the bucket prop. The music director noticed the mishap when the kids in the first row of the audience began playing with the bucket! Later on, during the song “NYC,” I played the role of a waitress and no further mishaps happened during the run.
Seventh grade was my second venture into the world of Annie. I was in a Broadway Revue called Broadway Dreamer at my middle school. In this production, I was once again in the number “It’s the Hard Knock Life.” I am telling you, there must be something with me and this particular song! During rehearsal one day, I was enthusiastically doing the number, and when I was backing up, my foot stuck to something on the stage. My knee then popped out, and I fell to the ground. The actual performance ended up going as planned, thankfully. Eighth grade was my last venture into the musical. I was Mrs. Pugh, Oliver Warbucks’ cook, in Annie Junior. This show was a lot of fun for me, but it also meant that at the end of the year, I was going to be leaving some friends since I was moving on to high school. This was my second favorite experience doing the show because performing as Mrs. Pugh was a role that was new to me, and it was a way to see the show from a new perspective.
Thanks for joining me down my Annie memory lane and my treasured anecdotes! What was the musical that introduced you to the wonderful world of theatre? Let us know!
(Photo by Martha Swope)