ANNIE is based on Harold Gray's popular comic strip Little Orphan Annie. The comic strip premiered in the 1920s in the New York Daily News, and became one of the most widely read strips in the 30s and 40s. Lyricist-director Martin Charnin bought a coffee table book called “The Life and Hard Times of Little Orphan Annie” as a Christmas gift for a friend in 1970. The clerk at the bookstore was too busy to wrap the book, so Charnin took the book home to wrap it. Instead, he read it and fell in love with the strip, and set out to secure the rights, Christmas week of 1970. The friend never got the book.
Charnin championed the idea to colleagues Charles Strouse, a two-time Tony-winning composer, and Thomas Meehan, a short story writer for The New Yorker. It took a great deal of campaigning to get them interested, but the team was finally formed in 1971, when they began to write the musical.
1972-1976 – DEVELOPMENT & GOODSPEED OPERA HOUSE PRODUCTION
After being completed, the musical was auditioned for 23 producers, all of whom turned it down. Finally, in the summer of 1976, Michael Price agreed to present it at the Goodspeed Opera House, where it underwent numerous changes, until Lewis Allen and Mike Nichols decided to produce it as their first Broadway venture.
1977 – ORIGINAL BROADWAY PRODUCTION
The original 1977 production ran at the Alvin Theatre (now renamed the Neil Simon Theatre) for 2,377 performances and won 7 Tony Awards®, including:
- Best Musical
- Best Book of a Musical
- Best Original Score
The production starred Reid Shelton (Oliver Warbucks), Dorothy Loudon (Miss Hannigan), Sandy Faison (Grace Farrell) and Andrea McArdle (Annie). Sarah Jessica Parker and Allison Smith also starred in the title role during the original Broadway run.
Trained by Tony Award® Honoree Animal Trainer William Berloni, the original dog that portrayed Sandy became the “longest running dog on Broadway,” never missing a performance.
ANNIE has been revived twice on Broadway (1997 & 2012).
In 2007, ANNIE played Madison Square Garden in New York for 5 weeks, and grossed $8 million - a record for the Garden.
As of now, it is the 13th longest running American musical in Broadway history.
ANNIE has been translated into 28 languages the world over and has played in 34 different countries.
1982 – COLUMBIA PICTURES FILM
ANNIE was first made into a movie in 1982. It was sold to Columbia pictures for $9.5 million, which represented the biggest sale in theatre history, exceeding the $6 million price-tag on A Chorus Line.
The 1982 movie starred Albert Finney, Carol Burnett, Bernadette Peters, Tim Curry, Ann Reinking, Geoffrey Holder, and Aileen Quinn as Annie.
1999 – WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY TV MOVIE
A made-for-TV version, produced by The Walt Disney Company, was broadcast in 1999 and starred Kathy Bates, Victor Garber, Audra McDonald, Kristen Chenoweth, Alan Cumming, and Alicia Morton as Annie.
2014 – SONY/COLUMBIA PICTURES REMAKE (www.Annie-Movie.com)
A second movie version, produced by Jay-Z and Will Smith, opens December 2014, starring Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne, Cameron Diaz, Bobby Cannavale, and Quvenzhané Wallis (Academy Award nominee for Beasts of the Southern Wild) as Annie.
Many of the little girls in ANNIE went on to extremely successful show business careers: Andrea McArdle, Sarah Jessica Parker, Molly Ringwald, Alyssa Milano, Allison Smith, Jamie Lynn Seigler, Debbie Gibson, and Catherine Zeta Jones (who played Molly in London).
Some of actresses to play Miss Hannigan have been: Dorothy Loudon, Alice Ghostly, Kathleen Freeman, Jane Connell, Betty Hutton, June Havoc, Ruth Kobart, Aline Robertson, Carol Burnett, Nell Carter, Kaye Ballard, Sally Struthers, Martha Raye, Faith Prince, Katie Finneran, Cameron Diaz, and Glee's Jane Lynch.
Oliver Warbucks has been played, amongst others, by Reid Shelton, Conrad John Shuck, Ron Raines, Harve Presnell, and Anthony Warlow.
Broadway Stars such as Sutton Foster, Gary Beach, Jan Maxwell, Rita Rudner, and Shelly Burch have all played roles in ANNIE over the years.
“Tomorrow” has been recorded by Barbra Streisand, Johnny Mathis, Cissy Houston, Grace Jones, Idina Menzel, Jack Topping, and more. “Tomorrow” has become one of most sung Broadway songs in history.
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