Ask a certain generation of women what movie, play or TV show defined their childhood and chances are most of them will say the same thing: “Annie.”
Growing up in suburban New York, I was fortunate to attend the theater several times a year. My family spent Sunday nights sitting in front of the fire listening to records from shows like “The Pajama Game” and “South Pacific,” and during the rest of the week I found myself gravitating to show tunes way more than pop tunes.
Our family’s evenings at the theater were always special occasions and always a thrill. No show was more electrifying for me, however, than “Annie.” The songs, the plight of those poor but spunky and resilient girls, and that scruffy dog named Sandy all contributed to an infatuation that has spanned decades.
I starred in my sixth-grade class’s production of the show, which sealed the deal for me: I wanted to be a star (until I got to college and realized I, in fact, had zero talent on stage, at which point I switched my major from theater to English).
My older daughter Petunia, 4, has had the entire soundtrack to the original Broadway cast recording of “Annie” memorized since her second birthday. She definitely has more talent than I ever did, and her enthusiasm is already on track to surpass mine. She’s seen a local production of the show twice, but earlier this month I had an opportunity to take her to the Broadway revival in New York.
“I have a surprise for you,” I told her excitedly. “When we go to New York, we’re going to see ‘Annie.'”
“Oh,” she smiled. “Can I have my surprise now?”
The show was living proof that you can, indeed, go home again. Sure, there were some changes (little girls in the audience dressed in jeans instead of their best party dresses, for one), but the spirit on stage remained the same, and the excitement of a night on the town at one of the most beloved shows of all time resonated in 2013 with my daughter as much as it did when I was younger.
I had some concerns Petunia was too young for Broadway, that the significance of such a large-scale production would be lost on her. It’s hard for a 4-year-old to fully grasp the Big Deal that is a Broadway show, but the moment Petunia walked into Times Square and the Palace Theatre, it just clicked. She got it. In more ways than one.
Here are a few photos:
You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile 1 of 10And a heart-locket necklace, of course.
Forget the Jumbotron and Big Bird Impersonator 2 of 10Annie has a presence in Times Square!
That’s a Lot of Laundry 3 of 10Until you walk into a Broadway theater minutes before the curtain goes up, it's hard to understand the energy and excitement that vibrate through the floors, walls and ornately decorated ceilings.
M&Ms & Booster Seats 4 of 10The wise people at "Annie" know to expect a young audience, which is why they have booster seats available for the shorter patrons. (Not to mention a good variety of candy for sale.)
Of course Petunia ditched her chair entirely five minutes into the show and sat on my lap the entire time.
Annie, circa 2013 5 of 10The Playbill for the current production on "Annie" on Broadway.
Annie, circa 1977 6 of 10The original Annie (Andrea McArdle), Daddy Warbucks (Reid Shelton) and Sandy.
Photo credit: Wikipedia
A Star is Born . . . 7 of 10Petunia's mother starring in her sixth-grade class's production of "Annie."
. . . In the Star’s Mind, Anyway 8 of 10Because all orphaned children enjoy argyle knee socks and a Swatch watch.
Arf! 9 of 10Sandy: Thrilling kids with sweetness since 1977.
Lights! (iPhone) Camera! Action! 10 of 10That's not an everyday smile.
Photo credits: Meredith Carroll
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