Annie Live! NBC Promo photo
NBC | Paul Gilmore

What We Know About ‘Annie Live!’

I love you, tomorrow! NBC is bringing us 'Annie Live!' this December. Here's what we know about it so far.
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NBC is back with another musical television special this December with the iconic Annie musical and a star-studded cast.

The Cast Is Amazing

NBC opened a nationwide casting call for Annie earlier this year. They found Celina Smith to be our newest Annie. Smith is a newcomer that got her start in musical theater as Young Nala in a national touring company of The Lion King.

Joining her are Harry Connick, Jr. as Sir Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks and Taraji P. Henson as Miss Hannigan. Connick, Jr. has been active in film, television, and musical theater since 1990. Henson recently wrapped her role on Empire in 2020 and said that this role is a dream come true.

“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. 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.”

Miss Hannigan’s brother, Rooster, will be brought to life by Tituss Burgess from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Burgess said he’d always wanted to play a villain, and this is his chance. Megan Hilty will be playing his girlfriend, Lily St. Regis. Before Hilty was cast, Jane Krakowski held the role but stepped down in November because of health problems.

Nicole Scherzinger will be playing Warbucks’s personal secretary, Grace Farrell. Andrea McArdle, the original Broadway Annie, will be returning to the musical as former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

Sandy the Dog will also be played by a dog named Sandy. I love that for her.

Celina Smith and Sandy as Annie and Sandy the dog for Annie Live!
NBC | Paul Gilmore

The First Polio Survivor to Play FDR

Alan Toy was recently announced to be playing former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Toy is a veteran screen performer and polio survivor. He will be the first polio survivor to portray FDR in film and on stage.

“FDR has always been a role model of accomplishment for me. I tip my hat to NBC and the producers of Annie Live! for authentically casting a person with a disability for this role. I’m proud to represent the community and hope that we will continue to see more of the Disability community in roles across entertainment media.”

Though FDR is only in the musical for a short time, his moments in the spotlight is memorable. It’s the moment he unveils his plan for a welfare program with Warbucks help.

Annie Live! Will Be Here in No Time

NBC has put on numerous live musical specials near the holidays since 2013. The first of these specials was The Sound of Music Live! with Carrie Underwood. The most recent was in 2018, Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, starring John Legend, Sara Bareilles, and Alice Cooper.

Broadway’s original Annie met the new Annie on the Today Show on November 12. They were promoting the event and Smith told McArdle that she couldn’t believe she was working with her, let alone meeting her.

“Oh, my gosh! It’s so iconic,” Smith said. “I mean, I never thought that I would ever, ever meet you, but when I heard you were going to be playing Eleanor Roosevelt, I freaked out!”

Though both actresses will be singing “Tomorrow” with the rest of the cast, they both agree that “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here” is their favorite song from the show.

The musical will be directed by executive producer Alex Rudzinki. Other executive producers are Robert Greenblatt and Neil Meron.

Lear deBessonet will serve as the program director and Sergio Trujillo will be choreographing. Emilio Sosa and Jason Sherwood are costume designing and scenic designing the project. Stephen Oremus will be providing new orchestrations for the live event.

The broadcast will be filmed at Gold Coast Studios in Bethpage, New York, on December 2, 2021.