Anne To live! East NBC last live broadcast of a Broadway musical (after The Wiz!, Jesus Christ Superstar and The sound of music). The show has gone through a variety of adaptations, including the 2014 film with Quvenzhané Wallis, and now Anne Live! with Celina Smith in the lead role. So how does it rank among the rest? Well, it’s somewhere in the middle, with several positives and equally negatives.
To sum up the story of orphan Annie, she is an 11-year-old girl in an orphanage under the care of Miss Hannigan (Taraji P. Henson). Abandoned by her parents, things look bleak for our heroine. But she always remains positive and continues to manifest her dreams. Her luck suddenly turns when she meets Grace Farrell (former Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger) and billionaire Oliver Warbucks (Harry Connick Jr.), who takes her home and falls in love with the young child. Of course, jinks ensue, because nothing is that simple. But how does it happen in this musical?
The soundstage is large and circular, which is a great call for providing a 360-degree view of the set. Transitions were quick and smooth. Changing wardrobes, moving rooms and lighting bring the scene to life. the Anne Live! the whole is simply fantastic. They are the most exciting part of the show and the glue that holds the production together. These talented people don’t miss a beat.
There are standout performances and fun, memorable numbers in the production. The whole and their ode to the fall of President Hoover are harmonized to perfection. Scherzinger delivers a spirited performance as Miss Farrell, and her best musical number is when Annie first enters the Warbucks mansion. “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” is a cute number, and the young girls have a great time just being part of the production.
But it’s not perfect. The staging of the decor is sometimes awkward. Some shots show spectators seated behind sets with no way of seeing what is happening in front of them. Aside from the distracting staging, the show begins with blurry, shaky shots that aren’t straightened out until after 90 minutes. It adds new elements to the story to give it a 2021 feel, but it is not it Still works. My biggest problem was mentioning Warbucks is a Republican. It adds nothing to the overall story for me. While it’s noted in other Anne performances, I do not know why it had to be underline here.
Overall, the closing song is the most resplendent number in the entire musical, but that’s how it should be. While Anne Live! doesn’t always run at full throttle, a story of hope and belonging is definitely what the country needs right now. And for many Anne fans, this version will hit the mark.