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, received a book of Little Orphan Annie strips for Christmas in 1971 and started to imagine a musical comedy based on the lead character.
Charnin campaigned the idea to colleagues, Charles Strouse, a two-time Tony-winning composer, and Thomas Meehan, a short story writer for The New Yorker magazine, and they soon jumped into the project. Although the show was only written in fourteen months, it took nearly four years to get on Broadway due to a lack of interest from producers.
Annie had its world premiere on August 10, 1976, at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Connecticut. Kristen Vigard was the first actress to play the title role, but the producers soon decided that Vigard's genuinely sweet interpretation was not tough enough for the street-smart orphan. After a week of performances, Vigard was replaced by Andrea McArdle.
The production moved to the Kennedy Center in Washington and later opened on Broadway to immense success. On April 21, 1977, the original Broadway production opened at the Alvin Theatre – now the Neil Simon Theatre – and starred Andrea McArdle as Annie, Reid Shelton as Daddy Warbucks and Dorothy Loudon as Miss Hannigan. Produced by illustrious film director, Mike Nichols, the original production closed on January 2, 1983, after an astonishing 2,377 performances, making it the third-longest running musical of the 1970s. Annie spawned four different national tours and dozens of international productions during its Broadway run.
The original West End production of Annie premiered at the Victoria Palace Theatre on May 3, 1978. The show closed on November 28, 1981, after 1,485 performances. A twentieth anniversary Broadway revival played the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in 1997; a highly publicized contest to find a new Annie was sponsored by the department store, Macy's. The revival closed on October 19, 1997, after 14 previews and 239 performances.
The most recent Broadway revival, which originally featured Lilla Crawford as Annie, began previews on October 3, 2012, and, as of July 2013, had been performed over 300 times.
- Annie was made into an Oscar-nominated feature film in 1982, starring Albert Finney, Carol Burnett, Bernadette Peters and Tim Curry.
- In 1999, Annie was remade into a TV movie, starring Victor Garber, Kathy Bates, Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming.
- Rapper, Jay-Z, reworked the classic song, "Hard-knock Life," into a single titled "Hard-knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)" for his third album, "Vol. 2: Hard Knock Life."
- Annie currently ranks number 25 on the list of longest-running Broadway shows.
- Before Sarah Jessica Parker rose to fame as a television and film actress, she appeared in the role of Annie on Broadway.
Add Sutton Foster to the list of famous former orphans! The Tony Award-winning actress made her stage debut at the age of ten as the endearing and enduring ragamuffin in Augusta, GA.
Written in only fourteen months, Annie's journey to Broadway took four and a half years, and went on to play 2,377 performances on Broadway in its original run, picking up seven Tony Awards in the process.