PEMBROKE — America’s favorite redhead comes to Pembroke Thursday with the traveling production of “Annie.”
Little Orphan Annie, Daddy Warbucks and other characters from the nearly 40-year-old show hit the stage at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s Given Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m.
The original production of Annie opened April 21, 1977. It ran for 2,377 performances after it first opened and has been performed in 28 languages. Based upon the popular Harold Gray comic strip “Little Orphan Annie,” the musical follows its 11-year-old star as she seeks out her long lost parents and is picked to spend Christmas with billionaire Oliver Warbucks. Its songs — including “It’s the Hard Knock Life,” “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” and “Tomorrow” — have become perhaps more recognizable than Annie’s curly red hair and scraggly canine companion, Sandy.
The original production of “Annie” won the Grammy for Best Cast Show Album and seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score, among other accolades.
The U.S. National Tour of Annie, now in its third year, is directed by original lyricist and director Martin Charnin and is billed as “a brand new incarnation of the iconic Tony Award-winning original.”
According to the Annie on Tour website, Charnin was inspired to create the musical after picking up a collection of Gray’s comics.
“Lyricist-director Martin Charnin bought a coffee table book called ‘The Life and Hard Times of Little Orphan Annie’ as a Christmas gift for a friend in 1970. The clerk at the bookstore was too busy to wrap the book, so Charnin took the book home to wrap it,” the site says. “Instead, he read it and fell in love with the strip, and set out to secure the rights, Christmas week of 1970. The friend never got the book.”
The musical was turned down by 23 producers before Michael Price signed on in 1976.
Now, the touring production features a 25-member company, with the title role played by Tori Bates, an 11-year-old actress from Sarasota, Fla., who is making her tour debut. Sandy, trained by Tony Award Honoree William Berloni, is played by rescued terrier mixes, Sunny and Macy. Choreography is by Liza Gennaro, who has incorporated selections from her father Peter Gennaro’s 1977 Tony Award-winning choreography.
The performance of “Annie” is part of GPAC’s 2016-2017 Broadway and More Series, which will also bring “Stomp,” “Pippin” and “42nd Street” to UNCP next year.
Tickets range from $16 to $41 and can be purchased online at www.uncp.edu/gpactickets, by calling 910-521-6361, or at the GPAC Box Office weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Groups of 10 should call for discount information.
Sarah Willets can be reached at 910-816-1974 or on Twitter @Sarah_Willets.