Thoughts on Annie Live!

Late to the party I know. What can I say, life happens and as I write this, I am currently on vacation in sunny Puerto Vallarta. It’s just the opportunity I can find to pay attention to the blog again (smiley face here).

This might be a brief review. I just really need to let my thoughts on last December 2nd’s Annie Live! out before the year ends because I can confidently say, it’s got to be one of my favourite TV musicals, placed before Hairspray and after… actually, scrap that… its on my top spot.

Why is that? I think this production should have been a template of how TV musicals are done. Here’s why, in no particular order:

One. You have the sets up like how a stage should be. Not too grandiose but effectively shows what the scenes are. It still has the feel of a stage show with set changes on the same platform instead of moving to different sound stages (looking at you, Grease Live!).

Two. While it was true to the original stage version, it incorporated some elements from the 1982 film, hitting different sets of nostalgia-ists.

Three. Celina Smith. As Annie, she did a more than excellent job bringing the character to life – feisty, strong, and with lots of heart. I’ve read some were complaining about her being too large (as in mature for an 11 year old) for the character but I don’t care. She can sing, she can act, she did a good job.

Four. Taraji Henson. A little larger than life rendition but as a theatre enthusiast, I really appreciated that. Menacing but likeable – a good balance of how Ms. Hannigan should be played. And that voice!

Five. The ensemble. I have a true appreciation of any show’s ensemble and this is no exception. Everyone is truly committed and gave their all. The orphans were spectacular and the adults were the same. It was nice to see familiar faces, too.

Six. Sergio Trujillo. One of the reasons I would love a show’s ensemble is when they execute breath-taking choreography, and this one by Mr. Trujillo did just that. Check out the iconic NYC, Easy Street, and We Got Annie, just to name a few, and you’ll see what I mean.

Seven. It’s A Hard Knock Life. The number deserves an entry on its own. See number six.

Eight. Nicole Scherzinger. Sure, she played Grace Farrell a little not to my taste but what she lacked with the acting, she made up with the singing and the dancing. Plus, I’m a little biased, too, because I’m a fan.

Nine. This one’s a two-fer – Megan Hilty and Titus Burgess. As Rooster and Lily St. Regis, they gave the character depth with a lot of comically memorable scenes. And I am commending Ms. Hilty in particular because she somehow made St. Regis stand out more.

Ten. Wrapping up my rave and giving credit due, directors Lear Debessonet and Alex Rudzinski, because without them, we wouldn’t have seen this almost perfect production. Now, what say you bring this production as a Broadway revival?

So there you go. Turned out it’s not a short review after all.

Annie Live! is on streaming now at Paramount plus. Catch it and hope you appreciate it as much as I did!

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