FOCUS ON FAMILY: ANNIE

Today we are celebrating the myriad glories of one of the most popular family-friendly musicals of all time, ANNIE.

Based upon the classic LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE comic strip by Harold Gray, Broadway blockbuster ANNIE is among the most successful musicals of the 1970s and early 1980s, brimming with life-affirming messages of hope and standout roles for children and teenagers.

Penned by Charles Strouse, Martin Charnin and Thomas Meehan, the original Broadway production ran for six years, amassing 2,377 performances over the course of its run. In addition to winning Best Musical, Tony Awards were received by Dorothy Loudon (Best Featured Actress In A Musical) as well as in the categories of Best Book, Best Score, Best Choreography, Best Scenic Design and Best Costume Design. Additionally, the original cast recording received the 1978 Grammy Award for Best Cast Show Album.

Since its debut, the Depression Era musical has become a staple of schools and community theaters around the country, remaining a constant favorite to this very day, in both its original iteration and the condensed ANNIE JR.. Telling the sprightly tale of a plucky orphan and her indomitable spirit which brings her from dire circumstances all the way to becoming a member of the richest family in New York City, ANNIE is a joyful and exuberant musical extolling the iconic slogan, "The sun'll come out tomorrow."

Historically, revivals on the Great White Way in 1997 and 2013 failed to capture the magic of the original long-running hit, yet the 1982 film adaptation remains a perennial family favorite despite its many divergences from the stage musical. A 1999 Wonderful World of Disney TV adaptation presented a version much closer to the original production, while a 2014 reboot jettisoned much of the score and updated the story to the present-day, to mixed results.

Featuring a bevy of showstoppers including "Tomorrow", "It's The Hard Knock Life", "Easy Street" and "You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile", the copious charms of ANNIE and its performance opportunities for children of all ages makes it an ideal musical to reference when looking forward to the 2019 Lotus Lee Foundation Children's Play Initiative, currently seeking submissions.

For more information on the Children's Play Initiative, visit the official submission page here: https://www.lotus-lee.foundation/submission/

By Pat Cerasaro