“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!”
For those unfamiliar with the story of Annie, Miss Hannigan is in charge of the orphanage where the musical’s titular character resides. The catch? She hates little girls. She even sings as much in a show-stopping number called, what else, “Little Girls.”
“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.”
As for Henson’s red-headed nemesis, NBC has officially begun a nationwide search for a “soon-to-be-discovered” young performer to fill the role of Annie. “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.
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.
Based on the Little Orphan Annie comic strip, the original production of Annie ran for nearly six years (1977–1983) on Broadway, taking home seven Tony Awards. It has since become a global phenomenon, both on stage and on screen.
Previous live NBC musical productions have included 2013’s The Sound of Music Live!, 2014’s Peter Pan Live!, 2015’s The Wiz Live!, 2016’s Hairspray Live! and 2018’s Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert.
Additional casting will be announced in the coming months. For now, how do you feel about Henson taking on this iconic role? Drop a comment with your thoughts on Annie Live! below.