Broadway in Orlando is back on the stage for the 2023/2024 season at Dr. Phillips Center with one of Broadway’s most loved musical’s ANNIE! It is a perineal family favorite with songs that are beloved by adults and children alike.
Holding onto hope when times are tough can take an awful lot of determination, and sometimes, an awful lot of determination comes in a surprisingly small package. Little Orphan Annie has reminded generations of theatergoers that sunshine is always right around the corner, and now the best-loved musical of all time is set to return in a new production – just as you remember it and just when we need it most. Annie, directed by Jenn Thompson, features the iconic book and score, written by Tony Award®-winners Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin. This celebration of family, optimism and the American spirit remains the ultimate cure for all the hard knocks life throws your way.
NEW PRODUCTION, SAME STORY
This is an all new production, but still the same ANNIE that we all know and love. The original 1977 production ran at the Alvin Theatre (now renamed the Neil Simon Theatre) for 2,377 performances and won 7 Tony Awards. ANNIE has been revived twice on Broadway (1997 & 2012).
In 2007, ANNIE played Madison Square Garden in New York for 5 weeks, and grossed $8 million – a record for the Garden. As of now, it is the 13th longest running American musical in Broadway history. ANNIE has been translated into 28 languages the world over and has played in 34 different countries.
This production of ANNIE at Dr Phillips Center in Orlando was a delightful night at the theatre for my eleven year old, as it was his very first Broadway show. He loved the songs he was already familiar with mixed with the magic of seeing a show live. As an experienced theatre goer, there was a lot to love in the show, but sometimes it felt a bit clunky and disconnected in it’s staging. The transitions were abrupt, and sometimes too rushed to the point that stage pieces were still moving when the lights come up for a new scene. The quick pacing of the transitions moved the story along quickly, there was a rushed feeling that made it tough to connect to the story emotionally. I had tissues ready, but did not need them. The performances were lovely, and mostly up to Broadway standards, which held the entire show to a high level- and maybe made those parts that felt a little less than Broadway standard feel more obvious. What a problem to have though! Specifically the level of talent that Julia Nicole Hunter brought to the role of Grace leveled up every scene she was in. The chorography and sets were brilliant and felt well done as well. I was concerned when we sat down and I saw the backdrop that perhaps the show (because of it’s touring nature) would rely on a sparse stage, but the set was utilized to tell the story in a way that helped some of the struggling paced scenes feel a bit more fleshed out.
GET TO KNOW THE SHOW YOU LOVE AND REMEMBER
Lyricist-director Martin Charnin bought a coffee table book called “The Life and Hard Times of Little Orphan Annie” as a Christmas gift for a friend in 1970. The clerk at the bookstore was too busy to wrap the book, so Charnin took the book home to wrap it. Instead, he read it and fell in love with the strip, and set out to secure the rights, Christmas week of 1970. The friend never got the book. 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 Charnin championed get them interested, but the team was finally formed in 1971, when they began to write the musical.
MANY VOICES OF ANNIE
Many of the little girls in ANNIE went on to extremely successful show business careers: Andrea McArdle, Sarah Jessica Parker, Molly Ringwald, Alyssa Milano, Allison Smith, Jamie Lynn Seigler, Debbie Gibson, and Catherine Zeta Jones (who played Molly in London). Some of actresses to play Miss Hannigan have been: Dorothy Loudon, Alice Ghostly, Kathleen Freeman, Jane Connell, Betty Hutton, June Havoc, Ruth Kobart, Aline Robertson, Carol Burnett, Nell Carter, Kaye Ballard, Sally Struthers, Martha Raye, Faith Prince, Katie Finneran, Cameron Diaz, and Glee’s Jane Lynch. Oliver Warbucks has been played, amongst others, by Reid Shelton, Conrad John Shuck, Ron Raines, Harve Presnell, and Anthony Warlow. Broadway Stars such as Sutton Foster, Gary Beach, Jan Maxwell, Rita Rudner, and Shelly Burch have all played roles in ANNIE over the years.
“Tomorrow” has been recorded by Barbra Streisand, Johnny Mathis, Cissy Houston, Grace Jones, Idina Menzel, Jack Topping, and more. “Tomorrow” has become one of most sung Broadway songs in history.
ATTENDING A SHOW AT DR PHILLIPS CENTER for Broadway in Orlando
Tickets for ANNIE are on sale now and you click here for more information on how to secure your seat to the show!
Have you attended a show at Dr. Phillips Center before? Before your visit here’s what to expect: Check out the “Know Before You Go” guide
The AdventHealth Broadway in Orlando 23/24 Season is presented by Florida Theatrical Association in partnership with Broadway Across America and the Dr. Phillips Center. The arts center’s Walt Disney Theater has been home to Broadway in Orlando for the past seven seasons, following Broadway’s two seasons at the former Bob Carr Theater before the Dr. Phillips Center opened in 2014.
If you are an AdventHealth Broadway in Orlando 22/23 subscriber, renewals will begin March 10. Join the waitlist at BroadwayInOrlando.com to be among the first to know when new subscriptions go on sale. Click here for more information on tickets for the 2023/2024 season!
Check out this post about the entire Broadway in Orlando season here!
About Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is a private nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization in downtown Orlando supported by the City of Orlando, Orange County, the City of Winter Park, the State of Florida and generous donors and sponsors. The 698,312-square-foot venue includes the grand 2,711-seat Walt Disney Theater, the community-theater style 296-seat Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater, the new adaptable 1,464–1,770-seat Steinmetz Hall and, opening in 2023, the dynamic cabaret-style music room Judson’s. In addition, the venue has various versatile event spaces like the DeVos Family Room, the Rooftop Terrace and the 3-acre outdoor Seneff Arts Plaza. In addition, the arts center’s AdventHealth School of Arts offers classes, camps and pre-professional productions. For more information, visit drphillipscenter.org.