The Right Age to Be Annie


Above: ANNIE in its original Broadway production

A debate I often see on message boards across the Internet deals with issues around casting and age. The casting of the orphans – and especially of the titular orphan – in Charles Strouse, Martin Charnin and Thomas Meehan’s Annie seems to be an issue that mothers and little girls who aspire to be gussied up in the trademark red dress take especially seriously.

Annie is meant to be 11 years old, but can a younger or older child play the part? What about a production where a 13 year old is told that she is too old, only to see the director cast a 15 year old in the role? Moms and daughters, the answer is easy: “age” and “looking too old” are two completely different things. You can be 15 and still look like an 11 year old; conversely, you can be 10 and look 14. So it’s quite plausible that an older actor may get cast as a younger character and vice-versa. Whether you have your heart set on hearing your daughter belt out “Tomorrow” or if you’re hoping to win the audience over with a heartfelt “Maybe”, remember that fact. In a traditional production of Annie, looking the part is as important as being able to carry it off.

And that’s show business.

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