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NBC is getting back into the live musical business.
The network has ordered Annie Live to air during the holiday season this year. It will be the first live musical for the network since Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert in 2018. Former NBC Entertainment chief Bob Greenblatt and Neil Meron will executive produce.
“As we look to drive big live audiences for NBC, we could think of no better way than to bring back the network’s holiday musical tradition,” said Susan Rovner, chairman entertainment content at NBCUniversal Television and Streaming. “And there are no better partners to do this with than the incredible Neil Meron and Bob Greenblatt, who oversaw every live musical during the years he ran NBC. Under their leadership, Annie Live will bring a fresh perspective to this timeless classic, coupling a dynamic first-class creative team with casting choices that will ensure this is a must-watch event for the whole family.”
Greenblatt and Meron shopped Annie Live to all of the big four broadcast networks before it landed at NBC. While he was running NBC Entertainment, Greenblatt started a run of live musicals on the network with the smash hit The Sound of Music Live in 2013. NBC subsequently aired live productions of Peter Pan, The Wiz and Hairspray in addition to Jesus Christ Superstar. The network also ran Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Musical in December 2020, but it was pre-taped.
The success of the The Sound of Music Live sparked a boomlet in live musical productions, with Fox also airing several — including the critically hailed Grease Live. ABC aired a live rendition of The Little Mermaid in 2019.
Meron and his late producing partner Craig Zadan produced all of NBC’s live musicals. Meron and Greenblatt will executive produce Annie Live with Alex Rudzinski (Hairspray Live, Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert), who will also serve as live TV director for the production.
“It is a joy to come back to NBC and produce a new live musical, a form I loved bringing back to life with my partners Neil Meron and the late Craig Zadan,” said Greenblatt. “And we’re thrilled to work with Susan Rovner and her new team because they share our belief in the power of broadcast television to bring families together for events like these.”
Added Meron, “There are few musicals like Annie where you know the words to every song and the overriding message — especially in the trying times we live in — is optimism. The song ‘Tomorrow’ means more than ever now, and it’s not lost on us that even Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal are impacted by this little orphan who simply believes in the goodness of everyone.”
Obie Award winner Lear deBessonet will direct the stage production. Tony winner Sergio Trujillo will choreograph the production, and Grammy and Tony winner Stephen Oremus will lead the music department. Chloe Productions is producing.
Variety first reported the news.
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