This holiday season, audiences will be treated to an updated special sure to warm even the coldest and tiniest Grinch hearts. Actress Taraji P. Henson steps on screen to play the evil Miss Hannigan in “Annie Live,” on December 2 on NBC.
The Academy Award-nominated Henson will star in a live production of one of the most beloved and biggest hits in Broadway history. As for Henson’s co-star in the titular role, that actor hasn’t yet been found. NBC is launching a nationwide casting search for the redheaded main character.
Henson says she can’t wait to take on the role, although she knows she’s got huge shoes to fill.
“Carol Burnett, who brought Miss Hannigan to life in the classic 1982 movie, is someone I have studied and idolized as far back as I can remember,” she said. “So when the opportunity came to me to join NBC and this incredible group of producers, I jumped! Carol, I hope to do you proud!”
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The search has begun to find a spunky and optimistic performer who has got star appeal to take on this classic role. Auditions will be virtual, so “Annie” hopefuls from anywhere can show off their talent and visit https://castittalent.com/Annie_Live for more information and a link to upload their audition. Rehearsals will be in October/November 2021 in New York. While Annie will definitely have red hair, girls of any ethnicity are called to audition.
Originally based on a Depression-era comic strip, “Little Orphan Annie,” the musical has been translated into eight languages, performed in 50 countries and ran on Broadway for more than four years when it premiered in 1977. The story, which has captivated audiences, hasn’t always been without friction when it comes to updating the story along racial lines.
Singer and actress Nell Carter played Miss Hannigan in the 1997 Broadway revival of the play. Carter was dismayed, however, when an earlier commercial featuring a white actress as her character was played to advertise the show.
In 1999, in a television remake by Disney, Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald played Annie’s caregiver and Oliver Warbucks’ love interest, Grace Farrell. McDonald explained that she was told the studio might be “uncomfortable” if Warbucks married Grace as a Black woman. Her co-star, Victor Garber, intentionally botched retakes so that the studio would have to leave in his proposal as the story originally required.
The most recent remake of the enduring tale starred Jamie Foxx as adoptive dad “Benjamin Stacks” to Quvenzhané Wallis’ portrayal of Annie. The 2014 production was a hit, but it wasn’t without online criticism that the lead actor was not white.
“Annie Live” brings back NBC’s holiday musical tradition this year. The network says they’re pulling out all the stops to make this production “must-watch television.”
“When we decided to bring back NBC’s holiday musical tradition, we were looking for something that was critically acclaimed and universally beloved – and while that’s definitely the case with ‘Annie,’ it absolutely applies to Taraji as well,” said Susan Rovner, Chairman, Entertainment Content, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming. “Watching her take on this iconic role will be a thrill that has all the makings of must-watch television.”