In 1972, Martin Charnin bought the rights to the comic strip Little Orphan Annie
. With Thomas Meehan and Charles Strouse, he created the Broadway musical Annie
in 1977. After 2,377 performances, four national tours, and five Broadway Annies, the musical ended its New York City run in 1983. There have since been two revivals marking the show's 20th and 35th anniversaries (in 1997 and 2012) on top of numerous professional and amateur productions.
New York City, 1932. Eleven-year-old Annie has been living in cruel Miss Hannigan's orphanage her whole life. After her latest unsuccessful escape attempt (during which she meets a stray dog she christens Sandy), secretary Grace Farrell decides to take the child home to temporarily live with billionaire Oliver Warbucks over the Christmas season as a publicity stunt for the grumpy tycoon. The plucky orphan worms her way into the hearts of the staff and Mr. Warbucks and even the President of the United States! Even though Mr. Warbucks wants to adopt her, he agrees to help her search for her real parents, who left half of a locket with her when they dropped her off at the orphanage as a baby. Miss Hannigan's brother and his sleazy girlfriend pose as Annie's parents to gather the reward that Warbucks has offered to Annie's real parents.
In 1982, John Huston
directed a film version
, which made a goodly number of changes to the play: comic strip characters Punjab and Asp are supporting players, Sandy gets more screentime, songs are added and dropped, and the climax is peril-filled. Annie was played by Aileen Quinn, heading up an All-Star Cast
of adult players. E.T.
kept it from being the Summer Blockbuster
it was intended to be, but it became an early VHS video store staple. A lot of '80s kids have the damn thing memorized
In 1989, Charnin reunited the old team and they created a sequel to the play, Annie 2: Miss Hannigan's Revenge
. Two name changes, tons of rewrites, and three Annies later
, the play ended up off-Broadway as Annie Warbucks
in 1993. You're probably hearing about it for the first time right here.
In 1995, a Made-for-TV Movie
called Annie: A Royal Adventure!
premiered on ABC
. It is presumably a sequel to the 1982 film (at least that's how IMDb
recognizes it), but it has none of the same cast
and is not a musical (unless you count a single reprise of "Tomorrow" at the end).
In 1999, ABC-Disney
produced a Made-for-TV Movie
version of Annie
, which made its own share of changes to the stage show. It starred Alicia Morton, with Kathy Bates as Miss Hannigan.
The 2006 Documentary Life After Tomorrow
revisits many of the women who played orphans in the stage casts.
Quvenzhané Wallis (known for Beasts Of The Southern Wild
) will star in another movie adaptation
of this musical, scheduled for a Christmas Day 2014 release. It contains some new songs by Jay-Z
and will also star Cameron Diaz
, Rose Byrne
and Jamie Foxx.
The musical includes examples of:
- Adaptation Name Change: In the comic strip, the orphanage was run by the cruel Miss Asthma. The musical changes her to Miss Hannigan.
- Adaptational Heroism: Franklin D. Roosevelt. While he isn't any more or less heroic than most media adaptations portray him as here his heroism here is hugely ironic given the source material. Little Orphan Annie's creator, Harold Gray, loathed FDR and the New Deal, and often went out of his way to let readers know this. Anything in the original strip that might remind readers of FDR, his administration, or the New Deal would always be portrayed in the most negative light possible (FDR's theme song, "Happy Days Are Here Again" would be sung exclusively by the villains in the strip). When FDR was re-elected for a fourth term in 1944, Gray got so depressed, he had Daddy Warbucks Killed Off for Real, dying in despair. When FDR died in 1945, Gray was so overjoyed he had Daddy brought Back from the Dead. To have FDR depicted as an old, dear friend of Daddy Warbuck's in the musical is hilarious to anyone aware of all this.
- Alto Villainess: Miss Hannigan.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: Why on earth does the radio show have a ventriloquist act? Surely that's ridiculous. Well maybe, but that really happened.note
- Award Bait Song: "TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-MAH-ROW!!!!!"
- The Brainless Beauty: Lily St. Regis. ("Named for the hotel!")
- Catch Phrase: In-universe, "We love you, Miss Hannigan" is forced onto the girls by Miss Hannigan.
- "Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!"
- Dark Reprise: "Maybe", as Annie is about to leave with her "real" parents and wonders if staying with Warbucks would have been better.
- Dumb Blonde: Lily St. Regis.
- Enforced Plug: Spoofed when Annie and Warbucks go on a radio show to advertise for Annie's parents.
- Fiery Redhead: Annie.
- Freudian Excuse: The lyrics of "Easy Street" imply that Miss Hannigan and Rooster learned their villainous ways from their mother.
I remember the way our sainted mother
Would sit and croon us a lullaby
She'd say, "Kids, there's a place that's like no other"
You gotta get there before you die
You don't get there by playing from the rule book
You stack the aces, you roll the dice
Mother dear, oh we know you're...down there listenin'
How can we follow your sweet advice
- Heartwarming Orphan: Annie, and all her friends at the orphanage.
- Hail To The Thief: "We'd Like to Thank You, Herbert Hoover".
- I Can Explain: Shortly after Annie's attempt to escape from Miss Hannigan's orphanage, a woman arrives and announces that she has been sent to talk to Miss Hannigan by the orphanage's board of directors. Miss Hannigan is in full self-justifying flight before the woman has a chance to explain that actually she's just come to arrange for one of the orphans to spend some time with Warbucks.
- Illegal Guardian: Rooster Hannigan and Lily St. Regis (or Miss Hannigan in the 1999 film) pretend to be Little Orphan Annie's "real parents" to scam reward money out of Daddy Warbucks.
- Ironic Echo: Miss Hannigan punishes any orphan she suspects of being dishonest: "What's the one thing I've taught you? Never tell a lie!" At the end, as Miss Hannigan is being carted away by the authorities, she pleads with Annie to witness that she's treated the orphans well; Annie's response is to apologize and remind her that there's one thing she's taught them...
- "I Want" Song: "Maybe".
- The Makeover: Annie's transformation from raggedy orphan to pretty little girl in "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here".
- Miming the Cues: While Miss Farrell is telling Miss Hannigan what kind of orphan she wants to borrow (age, etc.), Annie gives her hand signals so she can narrow it down to an orphan just like Annie.
- Not Allowed to Grow Up: The recycling of Annies and orphans was usually matched with the onset of puberty.
- Only Known by Their Nickname:
- Rooster. Subverted near the end when it's revealed his real name is Daniel.
- The orphans Pepper and Duffy, assuming those aren't their actual names.
- Orphan's Plot Trinket: Her broken locket.
- Orphanage of Fear: The orphanage run by Miss Hannigan.
- Parental Love Song: "I Don't Need Anything But You" is a duet between Annie and Daddy Warbucks about how glad they both are that they've been reunited and the adoption has gone ahead.
Together at last
We're tying a knot
They never can sever
I don't need sunshine now
To turn my skies to blue
I don't need anything but you!
- Plucky Girl: Annie. "The sun'll come out tomorrow!"
- The Pollyanna: Annie's defining character trait is her optimism.
- Ship Tease: Warbucks and Grace.
- Team Mom: Annie is this for the orphan girls, particularly Molly, the youngest.
- That Reminds Me of a Song: Quite a few of the musical numbers, including "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile", where the orphans make a big number out of a radio toothpaste commercial.
- The Trap Parents: After Daddy Warbucks offers a reward for information about Annie's parents, they turn up to claim her and take her away; but it's not really her parents, just con artists trying for the reward. Played with a bit in that Warbucks and company were aware of this trope and were rightfully suspicious of the many couples who showed up claiming to be Annie's parents. The con artists slip through only because Miss Hannigan gave them confidential information about Annie.
- Villain Song: "Little Girls" and "Easy Street".
- Wealthy Ever After
- You Can Say That Again:
Annie (sings): Yesterday was plain awful.
Warbucks (sings): You can say that again.
Annie (sings): Yesterday was plain awful.
Both (sing): But that's not now, that's then.
- Two Halves Make A Plot: Annie's Orphan's Plot Trinket is a half-locket left by her parents, who she assumes have the other half, so they can claim her when they find her again.
- Writer on Board: The musical takes the time to glorify FDR and the New Deal, which was the opposite of Harold Gray's free-market politics. All film versions have eliminated the two most overtly political songs, "We'd Like to Thank You, Herbert Hoover" and "A New Deal for Christmas". The 1999 version cuts out the political content entirely. The 2014 version drops the Depression setting, making this a non-issue.
Adaptations with their own trope pages:
- Annie (1982, Aileen Quinn as Annie)
- Annie (1999, Alicia Morton as Annie)
- Annie (2014, Quvenzhané Wallis as Annie)
In addition to tropes shared with the original musical, the stage sequel, Annie Warbucks, has examples of: