NBC has been producing these live musicals for years now, with The Wiz Live! and Peter Pan Live being just two of them. Now, for this years’ new star-studded musical, NBC is bringing a classic Broadway character right to our homes through the wonderful Annie Live!, the story of a little orphan who is suddenly thrown into a completely different world.
But, who exactly is going to be starring in this new live musical? From newcomers like Celina Smith to familiar faces like Taraji P. Henson and Harry Connick Jr., the Annie Live! cast has plenty of people who you might have seen somewhere else. This is where you may recognize them from.
Celina Smith (Annie)
Of course you can’t have Annie Live! without Annie herself. Portraying Annie is Celina Smith, a young actress with a whole lot of talent and a lot to prove.
Smith isn’t completely new to Hollywood. For two years so far, she’s starred in Tyler Perry’s Young Dylan, a Nickelodeon show about an aspiring hip hop artist, who moves in with his grandmother, uncle, and aunt when his mother doesn’t come home one day. Smith plays Rebecca, Dylan’s older cousin.
While her list of work isn’t super long, I’m sure playing Annie in Annie Live! will be a great stepping stone into a long career.
Taraji P. Henson (Miss Hannigan)
You know, for some reason, Taraji P. Henson as Miss Hannigan feels like the perfect casting, and I’m so happy she’s here for Annie Live!. Prior to her role as the legendary caretaker of these “little girls,” Henson has had a prominent career in both film and TV.
With movies, she’s starred in a variety of different roles, such as the fantastic coming of age movie, Baby Boy, the drama Hustle & Flow, the David Fincher film, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (which netted her a Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role Oscar nomination), the action comedy Date Night, the Jaden Smith-led remake of The Karate Kid, Think Like A Man and its sequel, the awesome movie based on a true story, Hidden Figures, and many, many others.
Henson has also been in several TV shows. One of her biggest roles was playing Cookie in Empire, but she’s also been a part of TV series like Boston Legal, The Division, Eli Stone, Person of Interest, and many others.
Harry Connick Jr. (Daddy Warbucks)
Every Annie always needs her Daddy Warbucks, and for Annie Live!, that character will be played by Harry Connick Jr. The actor is more well known for his prominent music career spanning several decades, and becoming a huge name in the jazz industry. However, he’s also had a successful film and television career for many years.
In movies, he’s been in many different kinds, such as the great war film, Memphis Belle, the thriller Copycat, the action adventure film, Independence Day, the romantic drama, Hope Floats, alongside Sandra Bullock, Basic, Bug, the iconic romantic comedy, P.S. I Love You, New In Town, Dolphin Tale, and many, many others.
He’s also been a guest star on many TV shows and competitions. For two seasons he was a host on American Idol alongside Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban, and later on had his own talk show called Harry. For several episodes, he also played Leo Markus on the popular sitcom, Will & Grace.
Nicole Scherzinger (Grace)
I don’t personally think I could picture a better Grace for Annie Live! than Nicole Scherzinger. Known for many years as the lead of the hit-making group, The Pussycat Dolls, Scherzinger has been acting for several years, appearing in a couple of movies, as well as on several competition shows on television.
Scherzigner has had minor roles in movies such as Chasing Papi, Love Don’t Cost A Thing, Men in Black 3, and more. However, she did have a prominent role in Disney’s Moana back in 2016, playing Moana’s mother, Sina. With television, she guest starred on several competition shows, such as Project Runway All Stars, I Can See Your Voice, and more.
However, Scherzigner has also had far more permanent judging roles on competitions. These include being a judge for The X Factor in the United Kingdom, a panelist on The Masked Singer, a judge on The Sing-Off and many, many others.
Tituss Burgess (Rooster)
Next up, we have Tituss Burgess, playing Rooster, the brother of Miss Hannigan and practically as crooked as her – which is why someone like Tituss Burgess playing him is so funny to me, as he’s such a great comedic actor.
Burgess is well-known for his role as Titus Andromedon in the Netflix original series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but has had many other roles as well. In movies, he’s appeared in Catfight, Then Came You, the Eddie Murphy–led film, Dolemite Is My Name, The Addams Family, Respect, and many others.
He’s also had a lot of other TV work as well. He had a recurring role in 30 Rock, and currently has a starring role in the Apple TV+ series, Central Park, where he gets to show off his amazing voice all the time. I know he’ll sing amazingly in Annie Live!
Megan Hilty (Lily St. Regis)
Next up, we have Megan Hilty, who is playing Lily St. Regis in Annie Live!. Hilty is known primarily for her stage presence for many years. She’s played Glinda the Good Witch in Wicked on Broadway, as well as sang in 9 to 5: The Musical, Noises Off, Annie Get Your Gun, Little Shop of Horrors, and more.
However, Hilty has also had a pretty prominent television career. While she has appeared in films such as the Tinker Bell movies (where she voiced Rosetta), and Rules Don’t Apply, she’s mainly kept her talents to television. On the series Smash, she starred Ivy Lynn. She also appeared in television shows such as Bones, Desperate Housewives, Sean Saves The World, The Good Wife, and more.
Hilty has also had a vast voice acting career, having major roles in several children’s television shows. This includes, but is not limited to, Sofia the First, Trolls: TrollsTopia, Centaurworld, Dora and Friends: Into the City!, and more.
Alan Toy (President Roosevelt)
Last but not least, we have Alan Toy, who plays President Roosevelt in Annie Live!. Alan Toy has an acting career that has spanned decades, all the way back to M*A*S*H, so you might have seen him pop up several times in movies or TV shows.
What makes this role even more special is that Alan Toy is actually the first polio survivor to ever play the role of Franklin D. Roosevelt in Annie Live!, which is amazing to hear and even more exciting to watch.
While he’s guest starred in several shows, Toy’s also had bigger parts as well, including Beverly Hills, 90210 as Professor Patrick Finley, Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction, Airwolf, and more. He’s also had several film appearances, as well, some of them minor, like in The Aviator with Leonardo DiCaprio, and others in bigger roles, such as Kansas or Kandyland. With as many credits as he had, it’s probably not a shock you might have seen him somewhere before.
These amazing performers were some of the perfect choices for Annie Live!, and I have a feeling I’ll be listening to this soundtrack over and over again.
Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don’t debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!