Nearly four decades ago, Charles Strouse, Martin Charnin and Thomas Meehan’s Annie opened on Broadway. Some love it; others hate it – but it is impossible to deny that the show has touched many a heart since its first performances in the 1970s. As such, I thought perhaps it might be fun to pay tribute the show, one that is also a great deal of fun to do, especially in the chorus (just because you’re so busy all the time) and – I’d imagine – if you are a kid. I was in the ensemble of a production of Annie in 1997 and I really enjoyed it. With a series of great numbers to get through, it’s great not to spend hours in the dressing room! I particularly loved performing “Hooverville”, “N.Y.C.” and the “Tomorrow” reprise in the cabinet scene. In that scene, I was an Honour Guard and all I had to do was hold a flag and belt out the tenor harmony. What fun.
Now let’s get on to the songs and today’s “Saturday List”
1. Favourite Song i.t.o. Lyrics
“I Don’t Need Anything But You”: While Annie does not really offer top-drawer sophistication in its lyrics, it is fun to see certain moments of wit appear here and there. While one may prefer other songs merely because of their content, this minor number in the second act always wins me over with its period references and character appropriate pairings of who needs whom to make them whole.
2. Favourite Song i.t.o. Tracks on the OBCR
“Easy Street”: This number is one of the best in the show anyway, but it is the way that Dorothy Loudon cuts loose toward the end of the song that makes it the most memorable track on the original cast recording.
3. Favourite Song i.t.o. Character Definition
“Little Girls”: This is one of those numbers that is always entertaining in the hands of a virtuoso performer (like Dorothy Loudon in the original production or Carol Burnett in the 1982 film), but which can be deceptively simple and is so easy to botch (as Kathy Bates did under the direction of Rob Marshall in the television production). Still, the song defines the character sharply, with a great nod to the period musically and some terrifically amusing images in the lyrics that really lend themselves to being staged. A runner up here is “Something Was Missing”, which depicts Daddy Warbucks in a way that is perhaps unexpected given the comic strip origins of the show, but which is all the more effective for that.
4. Favourite Song i.t.o. Marriage of Lyric to Music
“I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here”: This song captures in both its music and lyrics how exciting it must be for Annie to arrive in what must appear to be a completely exotic setting to her. It is little more than a light piece of diversion, but in the context of the show, it works like gangbusters. Plus there’s that final exclamation: “Welcome!”
5. Favourite Song i.t.o. Music
“We’d Like to Thank You Herbert Hoover”: This is an interesting number, one that was cut from both the film and the TV movie, probably because it illustrates a context that can be depicted far more quickly through the visual resources that film has at its disposal. What makes it so interesting to me is how the music offers an almost Brechtian musical take on the Depression. It’s unique in the score in that regard and really outlines life in New York at the time in an engaging manner. The runner-up here, for me, is the more conventionally toe-tapping “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile”.
6. Favourite Song i.t.o. Scene Structure
“NYC”: This is my favourite number in the show. I love how is builds from almost nothing – a thought – into the best production number in the show, a thrilling celebration of everything that makes New York a fantastic place to see. It’s a fantastic song in the “tribute to a famous city” genre and I think it is a travesty that the song was cut from the 1982 film version and was glad to see the song restored in the – where Andrea McArdle knocks the “Star to Be” solo out of the park, making my favourite part of the song more thrilling than ever before. (The Star-To-Be is a super cameo role – but it can be a torturous minute or so if the actress cast in the role can’t sell that solo vocally. I’ve heard that some productions like to cast the actress playing Lily as the Star-To-Be, but I’ve never seen it done that way.)
It’s certainly been fun revisiting this cute little show this weekend. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!