A few women are dripping in diamonds, a few women are dripping with pearls — and Taraji P. Henson will be dripping with little girls during NBC’s holiday production of “Annie Live!”
The Academy Award-nominated actress will play the orphanage’s cruel manager, Miss Hannigan, who abhors all children yet especially Annie. Henson will lead the musical opposite a soon-to-be-discovered star, as the network kicks off its nationwide casting search for the titular redheaded optimist.
“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,” Susan Rovner, chairman, Entertainment Content, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, said in a statement. “Watching her take on this iconic role will be a thrill that has all the makings of must-watch television.”
“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. “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!”
Henson won the Golden Globe, the SAG Award and the Critic’s Choice Award for her performance of Cookie Lyon on Fox’s musical drama “Empire,” and was nominated for an Oscar for her part in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. On top of acting and producing, Henson is an activist, a best-selling author, and was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. She is repped by M88, Ziffren Law and the Lede Company.
“Annie,” in view of the Harold Gray comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” from the mid 1920s, has been authorized and acted in 50 nations and translated into eight languages. The musical premiered on Broadway in 1977, and was adapted into two more movies, one out of 1999 featuring Kathy Bates and one out of 2014 starring Quvenzhané Wallis. “Annie Live!” will be executive produced by Robert Greenblatt, Neil Meron, and Alex Rudzinsky, with Lear deBessonet and Alex Rudzinski sharing the directing duties. Movement will be driven by Sergio Trujillo. Paul Tazewell will configuration ensembles. Jason Sherwood will organize production design. Stephen Oremus will manage the music direction. The live occasion is being created by Chloe Productions.
Tryouts for the job of Annie will happen essentially, and rehearsals will occur in October and November 2021 in New York. The musical will debut on-screen Thursday, Dec. 2 on NBC.