We’ve heard of turning comics into films or even comics into musicals. Your first thought of an example is probably Spiderman Turn Off the Dark or any of the DC and Marvel films being released in theatres. However, there is a non-superhero story in Broadway history that made musical canon in 1977. Little Orphan Annie went from a comic strip, to a radio show, to a musical at the Alvin Theatre. It won 7 Tony awards including Best Costume, Best Choreo, and Best Musical. Join us for this week’s edition of “On this Day” for a look back at Broadway history.
Never Fully Dressed Without a Synopsis
Annie(originally played by Andrea McArdle) is the story of an orphan who dreams of finding her parents. She lives in an orphan home run by the cruel Miss Hannigan (Dorothy Loudon) and tries to run away many times. The secretary (Sandy Faison) of a local millionaire (Reid Shelton) stops by the orphanage hoping to give her boss some positive press by letting an orphan stay in his home for a week. Mr. Warbucks, the millionaire, is skeptical that he will enjoy having the child around but ends up falling in love with her curious nature and positive disposition, despite her sad life experiences.
Stage to Screen
The musical was a big success that ran for almost 2400 performances. Its songs are known by many, including those unfamiliar with musical theatre. After its successful run onstage, a film was released in 1982 starring Carol Burnett, Albert Finney, Bernadette Peters, and Aileen Quinn. Disney also created a film in 1999 starring Victor Garber, Alicia Morton, Kathy Bates, Alan Cumming, Audra McDonald, and Kristin Chenoweth. In 2014, yet another movie version of the musical was released starring Jamie Foxx, Bobby Cannavale, Quvenzhané Wallis, and Cameron Diaz.
There will probably be a remake for many generations to come. Annie’s story is one that follows our ideal of the “American dream.” She starts as a down and out kid who works hard, acts as a leader for others, and still has fun. She ends up the adopted daughter of a multi-millionaire in a home of people who care for her. That’s the dream and with all these remakes, there is no chance we’re going to forget it!