SesayArts: From Page to Stage – 4

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Sesaya specializes in music and arts education.

Little Orphan Annie and Sandy

Little Orphan Annie and Sandy

Gee whiskers! Annie‘s coming to Toronto’s Young’s People Theatre, from November 11 to December 19, 2013 in a Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) version of the renowned musical that won 9 Tony awards, and has been a perennial family favourite since its Broadway premiere 36 years ago. Little Orphan Annie, the comic strip on which the musical is based, was written by Harold Gray (1894-1968) and ran an astounding 86 years, from its debut in the New York Daily News in August, 1924 to its final panel in June, 2010, when it was cancelled due to declining popularity. Happily, the comics have been released in  hardcover collections by IDW Publishing, with volume 9 coming out on June 18, 2013.

The comic was picaresque in nature, following the adventures of spunky 11-year old Annie, whose story begins in an orphanage. Other key characters included her adopted stray dog Sandy and her benefactor Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks.  While searching for her parents, they encountered various elements of a sinister world, like spies, murderers and gangsters. The character was inspired by a real-life redheaded girl whom Gray chanced to meet on the streets of Chicago and instantly liked for her self-possessiveness (she also happened to be named Annie). The comic strip became known for Gray’s political leanings, some of which fueled controversy and criticism for him. Throughout the strip’s run, the redheaded, empty-eyed, Leap-Day born Annie remained keenly optimistic and empathetic, with an innate sense of morality.

In addition to dolls, merchandise and even a US postage stamp, Little Orphan Annie inspired a radio show, 2 film adaptations and a musical, Annie, which was itself made into a movie. Annie was first adapted as a musical for the Broadway stage in 1977, with the book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin. The original production, directed by Mike Nichols, ran until 1983, and has since spawned many international productions. Currently, it is enjoying a 35th anniversary Broadway revival.

annie

Toronto audiences needn’t travel so far to hear iconic show-tune standards  like “Tomorrow”, “It’s the Hard Knock Life” and “Easy Street” as they will all be featured in YPT’s TYA version. My children, who are students of the YPT drama school, and have sung “Tomorrow” in more than one recital, can’t wait!

Posted in Arts News and Events, Uncategorized.