The timeless tale of one of the most beloved family classics Annie comes to life on the stage of Resorts World Manila’s (RWM) Newport Performing Arts Theater beginning October 7. But before local audiences experience this heartwarming production all over again, let’s get to know why Anne Marie Bennett-Warbucks, or Annie for short, became one of the most beloved characters through the years and all over the world.
Annie the comic strip
Annie is based on the Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie which was inspired by the 1885 poem “Little Orphant Annie” by James Whitcomb Riley about children being snatched by goblins for bad behavior.
Harold Gray initially thought of naming his comic strip Little Orphan Otto until a friend convinced him to change the name to Annie.
*The comic strip ran for decades even portraying Annie later on as a spy uncovering communist plots under the watchful eye of billionaire Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks. The strip ended its run on June 13, 2010 after 86 years of publication.
*Ex-US Army general and defense contractor Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks was listed as the richest man in the 2006 edition of Forbes Fictional Fifteen with an estimated $36.2 billion edging other characters as C. Montgomery Burns of The Simpsons and the young Richie Rich among others.
*Little Orphan Annie was ranked the number one comic strip by Fortune in 1937 besting such favorites as Popeye, Dick Tracy and Blondie among others.
*The comic strip started as a political cartoon by Harold Gray. In September 1935, one newspaper, the Huntington, W. Va. Herald-Dispatch, canceled the comic strip stating that “it has been made the vehicle for a studied, veiled, and alarmingly vindictive propaganda”.
*Harold Gray’s conscious choice to put vacant dots as Annie’s eyes in the comic strip was to let readers interpret her moods for themselves.
‘Annie’ the musical
*The original Broadway production of Annie closed on January 2, 1983 with 2,377 performances, setting a record for the longest running show at the Alvin Theater (now the Neil Simon Theater) only to be surpassed by Hairspray in 2009.
*Celebrities who have been part of the Annie musical include Sarah Jessica Parker as Annie, Molly Ringwald and Alyssa Milano as orphans and Jane Lynch as Ms. Hannigan.
*Annie has stage sequels entitled Annie 2: Miss Hannigan’s Revenge in 1989 and Annie Warbucks in 1993.
*Annie garnered seven Tony awards in its 1977 production.
*According to the New York Times, Annie is produced 700 to 900 times each year in the US.
*Andrea McArdle who played Annie in the 1977 Broadway musical earned the distinction for the youngest actress to be nominated for Tony’s best actress in a musical.
*The first Philippine production of Annie was in 1980 starring a young Lea Salonga.
*For auditions in the Tokyo production of Annie, an estimated 22,000 hopefuls showed up.
‘Annie’ the film
*The 1982 film version of Annie had an estimated cost of $40 million—one of the biggest film budgets during its time.
*For the 1982 film, Bette Midler was the first choice for the role of Ms. Hannigan while Sean Connery was approached for the role of Oliver ‘Daddy’ Warbucks. The roles went to Carol Burnett and Albert Finney respectively.
*Before landing the role of Annie in the 1982 film version, Aileen Quinn was a “swing orphan” in the Broadway production which means she can play any of the orphan roles except that of Annie.
*8,000 girls auditioned for the lead role of Annie in the 1982 film version.
*The 130-room Warbucks mansion in the 1982 film now stands as Monmouth University where Aileen Quinn also taught theater.
*Inside the Warbucks mansion are 130 rooms, a 2,500 square foot main hall with a 75-foot Venetian glass ceiling, 17 master suites of international designs, a 300-seat theater, a gymnasium, two bowling alleys, a billiard room, and a nine-hole golf course.
*Quvenzhane Wallis who played Annie in the 2014 film was the youngest actress to be nominated for an Oscar best actress award for her role in Beasts of the Southern Wild.
*In the 1982 film, Sandy the Dog was played by a 6-year old otterhound named Bingo while in the 2014 film version of Annie, Sandy was played by a golden-retriever-chow mix named Marti who was rescued from a shelter prior to being cast for the film.
The music of ‘Annie’
*The song “Tomorrow” is reportedly the most performed song in the ‘70s and ‘80s and is sang every 20 minutes somewhere in the world.
*In 1999, rapper Jay-Z sampled excerpts from the Annie song “Hard Knock Life” which won him a Grammy award.
*Composer and lyricist Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin acknowledge Annie as their own child who looks after them as they age saying the musical’s success throughout the years helped provide for their needs and more.
Resorts World Manila’s ‘Annie’
*Opening at the Newport Performing Arts Theater, RWM’s Annie is top-billed by 2015 Metro Manila Filmfest Best Child Actress Krystal Brimner and the talented Isabeli Araneta Elizalde, with Michael De Mesa as Oliver ‘Daddy’ Warbucks, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo as Ms. Hannigan, Jill Peña as Grace Farrell, Mako Alonso and Red Concepcion as Rooster, Justine Peña as Lily St. Regis and James Paolelli as president Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
*Included in the production team of the upcoming Philippine production of Annie are thespian/director Michael Williams, set designer Faust Peneyra, costume designer Gino Gonzales, lighting designer Jon-Jon Villareal, choreographer Nancy Crowe, and voice coach Lyn Fabella, among others. The Manila Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of maestro Rodel Colmenar will provide the musical direction.
*Sandy the Dog will be played by the lovable Alab who is a 7-year old native adopted from a shelter and 6-year old Golden Retriever Tony.
* On social media, millions of Filipinos have positively engaged with the #brightertomorrow video featuring the kids cast of RWM’s Annie. The video was launched a day before the inauguration of the country’s new president to spread a message of hope as it welcomed a new administration.
Tickets for Resorts World Manila’s production of ANNIE are now available at the RWM Box Office and all TicketWorld outlets. Log on to www.rwmanila.com for more information.