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A Very “Annie” Christmas, Circa 1977

December 22nd, 2011

Maine State Music Theatre "Annie". Photo by Annie Rose.

It’s December 4, 1977. The freshly fallen snow glimmers with rainbow hues reflected from golf ball sized outdoor Christmas lights. Little Tommy, all snug in his footie pajamas, is nuzzled into a mustard yellow bean bag, visions of Star Wars characters dancing in his head. And what should appear on the wood paneled TV to warm his tiny show queen burgeoning heart? NBC is airing a holiday special based on the biggest smash to hit Broadway in years, Annie.

Is it a tale of the curly redhead bringing Warbucks-backed cheer to orphans on Christmas morn? A scrappy story of outwitting Miss Hannigan’s nefarious plot to stop Santa? Nope. It turns out that The Annie Christmas Show is a fourth wall breaking look behind the scenes of the stage show (yeah, kids, there’s no real Annie; she’s an actress) involving child labor laws, cheap producers and pesky union rules. And people wonder why it hasn’t become a perennial like It’s a Wonderful Life.

Don’t believe me? Watch the first ten minutes of this jaw-dropping wonder starring much of the original Broadway cast; it’s my gift to you…

So, what have we learned from this delightful gift?

1. Unions are the obstacle to happiness. Who wrote this special: Wisconsin Republicans? Herbert Hoover? A Broadway producer?

2. Children need to be taught the difference between their stage voice and screen voice. I think my ears are bleeding.

3. It’s terribly cruel to interrupt the clip just as the fabulous Dorothy Loudon is about to perform. Sounds like something Miss Hannigan might try to pull.

4. Broadway performers work over the holidays. Don’t believe me; check out a schedule for the next two weeks of performances. Better yet, go see a show!

5. I want to see holiday specials like this from current Broadway shows. A Very Book of Mormon Christmas! A Hanukkah Journey to Other Desert Cities! Say Saturnalia with Venus in Fur! Seriously, can you imagine a day when network TV greenlit a show based on a Broadway hit? With the Tonys clinging to their slot each year by a dancer’s g-string, it seems like a Christmas miracle. But little Tommy can dream.

As we all take a much deserved break for a few days, everyone here at the Broadway Blog wishes you a safe and happy holiday season.

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