Now that a new production of the beloved family musical Annie will open later this year, younger generations will finally meet the spunky character in a red dress who went on to become a pop culture icon.
Presented by Resorts World Manila (RWM) through Full House Theater Company, and in cooperation with Ultimate Shows, Inc., Annie will return to the country in September, 36 years after it was first staged by Repertory Philippines in 1980.
This year, the role will be played by talented rising stars Krystal Brimner and Isabeli Araneta Elizalde, who both know that filling Annie’s shoes is no easy task. Looking back at actresses who have played the role, that one crucial factor that directors look for in a potential Annie is clearly a positive attitude and optimistic outlook.
In the country, Lea Salonga, who gave life to Annie for the first time on Philippine stage, is well known for her enthusiasm for theater. Her strong will and positive attitude catapulted her to international stardom as she starred in Miss Saigon, making her the first Asian to win a Tony Award, and Les Misérables, which landed her the distinction of being the first Asian to play the roles of Eponine and Fantine.
In 1998, Repertory Philippines reprised Annie in the country with Charito Sanoy and Camille Cabrera alternating in the title role. Charito’s other accomplishments include her singing of “We Are One” as a young Kiara for Disney’s Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride film, and as the voice of Sasha in The Rugrats television series in which she was nominated by the 1997 Young Artist Award for best performance in a voiceover (young artist category). Camille on the other hand went on to star as Mary Lennox in Repertory Philippines’ The Secret Garden in 2001 and as Susan in Trumpets’ The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe in 1997 establishing herself as one of the young and talented thespians of her time.
Internationally, actresses who have played the role of Annie include Andrea McArdle who starred in the original Broadway musical in 1977, Aileen Quinn who took on the title role for the first film version in 1982, and Quvenzhane Wallis who starred in the 2014 film.
Andrea was the youngest actress to be nominated for a Tony Award for her role as Annie, which prepared her for a thriving career in musical theater and as a favorite performer in posh showrooms, hotels, and cruise ships around the U.S.
Aileen, who first played Annie on film, earned two Golden Globe nominations and a best actress plum from the Youth in Film Awards for her role. At 18, she pursued studies on language with a minor in political science at the Drew University in Madison, New Jersey where she graduated with honors before returning onstage in Broadway national tours and at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Aileen has also appeared in independent films, fronts her L.A.-based rockabilly band The Leapin’ Lizards and teaches theater at Monmouth University, where its Woodrow Wilson Hall is what used to be the same setting of billionaire Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks’s mansion in the film.
The most recent Annie incarnation was from Quvenzhane who earned the distinction of being the youngest best actress nominee for an Academy Award for her role as Hushpuppy in the 2012 film Beasts of the Southern Wild. Her portrayal of Annie also earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy and in 2014 was named the first major child celebrity to be a brand ambassador of the luxury brand Armani Junior.
The success that these former ANNIEs have achieved in their careers may just foreshadow what the future might bring for RWM’s leading ladies Krystal and Isabeli. With their innate optimism and confidence, these two certainly have what it takes to win audiences’ hearts and let the sun come out with their flair onstage.
ANNIE opens on Sept. 30 at Newport Performing Arts Theater, Resorts World Manila. Visit www.rwmanila.com or call the Tourist/Visitor Hotline at (632) 908-8833 for more updates on Annie.