The NBC live musical returns with “Annie Live!” on Wednesday, December 2 at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.
NBC live musicals began back in 2013 with Carrie Underwood as Maria in “The Sound Of Music Live!” Since then, Broadway hits including Peter Pan, Hairspray, and Jesus Christ Superstar have all been brought to the small screen for viewers to enjoy from the comfort of their living rooms.
Let’s meet the star-studded cast of “Annie Live!,” including the rising star playing the titular role.
Meet the ‘Annie Live!’ 2021 Cast
Taraji P. Henson, best known for films including “Hidden Figures” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” plays Miss. Hannigan – the not-so-nice Head of the orphanage where Annie lives and dreams of reuniting with her parents.
Joining Henson in the iconic musical number “East Street” is Titus Burgess as Miss Hannigan’s jailbird brother Rooster and Megan Hilty as his ditzy girlfriend Lily St. Regis. Both Burgess and Hilty are Broadway alums who have crossed over to film and television. Burgess is best known for his portrayal of Titus Andromedon on the Netflix series “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and Hilty starred in the NBC series “Smash.”
Harry Connick Jr. dons a bald cap as kind-hearted billionaire Oliver Warbucks and former Pussycat Doll Nicole Sherzinger is his secretary, Grace.
12-year-old Celina Smith plays spunky, optimistic orphan Annie. The Atlanta native secured the role after a nationwide search. While on The TODAY Show, Smith revealed how she found out she’d gotten the role.
“We were in my mom’s room and my team called and they were like, ‘What are you going to be doing this October?’ I was like, ‘I don’t know.’ And then they were like, ‘You’re going to be in New York doing “Annie Live!” this October.’ And I screamed,” Smith said. The young actor is no stranger to the stage. She previously played Young Nala on a national tour of “The Lion King” and also appeared on the Nickelodeon show “Young Dylan.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt Will Be Played By a Polio Survivor
The musical Annie takes place in New York City in 1933, at the tail end of The Great Depression. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) was the President. For the first time in the musical’s history, a real polio survivor, Alan Toy, will portray the role of FDR. Toy suffers from permanent paralysis as a result of polio, just as Roosevelt did.
PEOPLE reports that Toy said in a press release, “I tip my hat to NBC and the producers of “Annie Live!” for authentically casting a person with a Disability for this role. I’m proud to represent the community and hope that we will continue to see more of the Disability Community in roles across entertainment media.”
Toy’s past acting credits include “The Aviator” and “In the Line of Fire.”
Meet the Orphan Ensemble of ‘Annie Live!’
“Annie” would be nothing without its ensemble of singing, floor-scrubbing orphans. Let’s meet some of the young actors playing Annie’s friends from the orphanage.
Felice Kakaletris plays Molly, the orphan who loves hearing Annie read the note her parents left her with when they dropped her off at the orphanage. “@tarajiphenson is the sweetest Miss Hannigan ever!!! I am learning so much from her and I hope one day I get to be half the wonderful and humble human she is,” Kakaletris wrote on Instagram.
Audrey Cymone plays Pepper, the rough-around-the-edges orphan who leads the other orphans in teasing Annie for keeping hope alive that she’ll see her parents again. “Too much talent with this cast I get to work with! I pinch myself everyday,” Cymone captioned an Instagram photo of her with Titus Burgess, who plays Rooster.
Tessa Frascogna plays Tessie, the orphan with the “oh my goodness, oh my goodness” catchphrase. According to her IMDb page, she will appear in an upcoming film adaptation of “13: The Musical.”
Don’t miss “Annie Live!” on Wednesday, December 2 at 8 p.m. Eastern Time on NBC.