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Taraji P. Henson (Empire, Hidden Figures) will star in the musical as Miss Hannigan, the cruel head of the orphanage where young Annie lives and dreams of a better life. The show’s producers are also kicking off a nationwide, virtual search for a young actor to play the title role.
“When we decided to bring back NBC’s holiday musical tradition, we were looking for something that was critically acclaimed and universally beloved — and while that’s definitely the case with Annie, it absolutely applies to Taraji as well,” said Susan Rovner, chairman entertainment content at NBCUniversal Television and Streaming. “Watching her take on this iconic role will be a thrill that has all the makings of must-watch television.”
Annie Live is set to air late in 2021 and will be NBC’s first live musical since Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert in 2018. Former NBC Entertainment chief Bob Greenblatt — who inaugurated NBC’s 21st century run of live musicals with a staging of The Sound of Music in 2013 — and Neil Meron, who with his late producing partner Craig Zadan had a hand in all of NBC’s live musicals, are executive producing.
Dorothy Loudon originated the role of Miss Hannigan when Annie debuted on Broadway in 1977. Carol Burnett played her in the 1982 movie based on the musical; Kathy Bates and Cameron Diaz played Miss Hannigan in a 1999 ABC musical and the 2014 feature film, respectively.
“Carol Burnett, who brought Miss Hannigan to life in the classic 1982 movie, is someone I have studied and idolized as far back as I can remember,” said Henson. “So when the opportunity came to me to join NBC and this incredible group of producers, I jumped! Carol, I hope to do you proud.”
Henson is a three-time Emmy nominee, including twice for Fox’s Empire, and earned an Oscar nod for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Her credits include features What Men Want, Proud Mary and Think Like a Man and TV roles on Person of Interest, Boston Legal and The Division. She’s repped by M88, Ziffren Law and the Lede Company.
Greenblatt and Meron are executive producing Annie Live with Alex Rudzinski (Grease Live), who will also share directing duties with Lear deBessonet. Sergio Trujillo will choreograph the production, with Paul Tazewell designing costumes, Jason Sherwood in charge of production design and Stephen Oremus overseeing music direction. Chloe Productions is producing.
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