No official casting announcements have been made, but negotiations are under way for Rosie O’Donnell to play Miss Hannigan in Broadway’s upcoming revival of “Annie.” “This is a great role that she will be able to sink her teeth into and will get her back to acting and performing live, which has always been her first love,” a friend of O’Donnell recently told The Huffington Post.
The classic story of an optimistic orphan’s search for her roots, “Annie” originally opened in April 1977 at the Alvin Theatre, which is now called the Neil Simon Theatre. To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the show, the upcoming revival is set to open in the fall of 2012 and will be directed by Tony Award-winner James Lapine. Teaming up with Lapine are Thomas Meehan, who wrote the original book, and producer Arielle Tepper Madover.
The world-renown show has only been revived once, in 1997, and the production received negative reviews and closed after only seven months. Madover is sure this production will be different, according to The New York Times, because Meehan will be working on updating the script and “a new creative team will look to modernize the show.”
Auditions for the orphan roles began in June 2011. As soon as the revival was announced, many New York audition workshops were held to prepare local talent. Some Broadway workshops were led by former “Annie” cast and crew members. Broadway Workshop, a New York musical theatre school, sold out its audition prep — led by former “Annie” film star Aileen Quinn — in 12 minutes, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Madover told The Wall Street Journal that she was not looking for anyone in particular for the starring role. “You’ll know it when you see her,” she said.
Bernard Telsey, another Broadway veteran, headed the casting committee that searched for the other six orphans. No official cast information has been released yet.
In addition to being a well-known veteran of film and television, O’Donnell is no stranger to the big stage, having previously performed as Rizzo in “Grease,” the Cat in the Hat in “Seussical,” and Golde in “Fiddler on the Roof.” O’Donnell also produced the 2003 show “Taboo” on Broadway. After her talk show was recently cancelled by the Oprah Winfrey Network, O’Donnell moved back to New York City.
While friends and fans tweeted angrily after the Rosie Show was cancelled, The Huffington Post reports that O’Donnell tweeted back, “that’s show biz — and I am happy to have had the chance and now to be back home in ny — maybe broadway.” O’Donnell is excited to be playing the part, according to a friend, and is happy to be getting back to the stage.
O’Donnell is not the first television or movie star to make his or her way to the Great White Way. As covered in a February 2012 TicketNews article, in recent years, many stars have widened their horizons to star in Broadway shows. Daniel Radcliffe, the star of the “Harry Potter” movies, recently starred in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” after performing in the 2008 play “Equus.” Kiefer Sutherland starred last year in the 2011 production of “The Championship Season,” and Denzel Washington starred in the play, “Fences” in 2010. The list goes on and on.
Although the recent cancellation of her show may seem like Rosie O’Donnell has a “Hard Knock Life,” she still has time to find her way to “Easy Street” in the upcoming Broadway revival of “Annie.”