Annie Live! has found its villain.
Taraji P Henson is joining the cast of NBC’s adaptation of the Tony-winning musical, Annie Live! as Miss Hannigan, the role notably made famous by Carol Burnett in the 1982 movie version of Annie. In the story of Annie, Miss Hannigan was in charge of the orphanage where Annie lived but she also hated little girls. She even sings as much in a show-stopping number called, what else, “Little Girls.”
“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,” Henson said in a statement. “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!”
Dorothy Loudon originated the role of Miss Hannigan when Annie debuted on Broadway in 1977. Carol Burnett played her in the 1982 movie version. And then Kathy Bates and Cameron Diaz played Miss Hannigan in, respectively, a 1999 ABC musical and the 2014 feature film.
“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,” added said Susan Rovner, Chairman of Entertainment Content for NBCUniversal Television and Streaming. “Watching her take on this iconic role will be a thrill that has all the makings of must-watch television.”
The title character has yet to be cast. The show’s producers are also kicking off a nationwide, virtual search for a young actor to play the title role. “The search is on for a young, future star of any ethnicity to bring optimism, spunk, honesty and a wisdom beyond their years to the classic role,” the network said in a statement, directing hopefuls to an official casting site.
Based on the classic comic strip Little Orphan Annie, the show features music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin and book by Thomas Meehan. The original Broadway production opened in 1977 and ran for nearly six years, won seven Tony Awards and includes the now-standard songs “Tomorrow” and “It’s the Hard Knock Life.” The musical has been adapted for film several times, including in 1982, 1999 and 2014.
From Chloe Productions, Annie Live! is being executive-produced by Robert Greenblatt, Neil Meron and Alex Rudzinski, the latter of whom will co-direct with Lear deBessonet. Sergio Trujillo will choreograph, Paul Tazewell will design the costumes, Jason Sherwood will oversee production design and Stephen Oremus will serve as musical director.
Additional casting will be announced in the coming months.
Annie Live! airs on Thursday, December 2