It’s a hard-knock life, indeed.
Poor Annie, the eponymous redheaded orphan, has had more than her fair share of revisionist treatment, something at least one of its creators, lyricist Martin Charnin, hopes to correct in a new touring production of the hit Broadway musical “Annie,” which plays March 31 through April 5 at the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis.
This time around, Charnin is directing, which seems to come down to the fact that the recent Broadway revival, directed by James Lapine, wasn’t to his liking.
Composer Charles Strouse and librettist Thomas Meehan disagreed, and the three issued PR statements taking up their chosen sides.
It’s not the first time “Annie” has been toyed with. At the turn of the century, Amanda Dehnert’s revisionist staging of the musical at the Trinity Rep, which was exceedingly grim, added a new ending where the orphan woke up realizing the entire evening had been a fever dream. Featuring bruised orphans and a more realistic unfurling of Depression-era New York, the production was threatened with a cease-and-desist when Charnin paid a visit.
More recently, there was a new big-screen “Annie,” in which most of its classic score (featuring the evergreen hit “Tomorrow”) was thrown out and re-written as a hip-hop-ish modern fable. The reviews were unanimously negative, with Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian infamously saying, “this is like a hundredweight of sparkly radioactive waste in a pink carton.”
That’s not what you’ll see if you venture to the Orpheum, where Charnin has promised a more faithfully-mounted production of the musical, which won a handful of Tony Awards in 1977 and originally ran close to six years.
That means a whole new generation could potentially be ushered into musical theater with a score that’s top-caliber, and a book which adheres to the classic tenets of the form, something a lot of modern musicals don’t bother much with anymore.
If not, then hold fast to the curly-haired’s optimism, because tomorrow is always and only just another day away.