There was a popular cartoon in the 1920s called Little Orphan Annie. It was created by Harold Gray. The strip ran through the ‘30s and ‘40s. Fast forward to 1970. Martin Charnin, a lyricist and a director, purchased a coffee table book called The Life and Hard Times of Little Orphan Annie for his friend. As he was getting ready to wrap the book, Charnin opened it to peek inside. He ended up reading the entire book. Charnin fell in love with Little Orphan Annie that day and started pursuing the rights. He talked with his friends Charles Strouse, a two-time Tony award-winning composer and Thomas Meehan, a short story writer for The New Yorker. In 1971, they started work writing the musical. The musical has been through several iterations since then. On Thursday, Nov. 17, Annie comes to Givens Performing Arts Center.
It was six years before Annie debuted at the Goodspeed Opera House. There, it was revised and changed. Then Lewis Allen and Mike Nichols chose to produce Annie as their first Broadway show. It opened in 1977 at the Alvin Theatre, which is now the Neil Simon Theatre. It ran for 2,377 performances and won seven Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score and Choreography. The cast included 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.
Since then, Annie has returned to Broadway twice – in 1997 and 2012. It’s the 13th longest-running American musical to run on Broadway. It’s been translated into 28 languages and has been performed in 34 countries.
This production of Annie is directed by the same man who fell in love with the comic strip in 1970: Martin Charnin. It’s choreographed by Liza Gennaro.
Annie includes such favorites as“It’s the Hard Knock Life,” “Easy Street,” “I Don’t Need Anything But You” and “Tomorrow.”
See Annie at Givens Performing Arts Center. Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. Call Givens box office at 910-521-6361 for tickets and information or visit http://www.uncp.edu. Tickets: $41, $36, $21/$26 Alumni/$16 Children or Students/$16 Faculty and Staff/$10 UNCP Students.