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Review Roundup: ANNIE LIVE! Comes to NBC

Annie Live! is now streaming on Peacock.

Review Roundup: ANNIE LIVE! Comes to NBC

Last night, Annie Live was broadcast on NBC! The critics have weighed in on the latest live television musical.

The live holiday spectacular starred Celina Smith as Annie, Taraji P. Henson as Miss Hannigan, Harry Connick Jr. as Daddy Warbucks, Nicole Scherzinger as Grace, Tituss Burgess as Rooster and Megan Hilty as Lily St. Regis.

"Annie" is one of the most beloved and biggest hits in Broadway history and the winner of seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It has been licensed and performed in 50 countries and translated into eight languages. Based on the Harold Gray comic strip "Little Orphan Annie" that debuted in 1924, the musical premiered on Broadway in 1977 and initially ran for over four years.

The critics have spoken...

Noel Murray, New York Times: "The supporting performers kept the evening from slipping too far into stodginess. Henson followed in the footsteps of great scenery-chewing Hannigans like Carol Burnett and Nell Carter, playing the character as a chaotic force of malevolence. Burgess and Hilty seemed to delight in putting unexpected spins on their lines, keeping each other spry. And Scherzinger had one of the evening's highlights with the dance number "We Got Annie," a song that originated in the 1982 movie as a showcase for that production's Grace, Ann Reinking, who died last December. Scherzinger's version was likely a homage - and a sweet one."

Valerie Complex, Deadline: Overall, the closing song is the most resplendent number in the whole musical, but that's how it should be. While Annie Live! doesn't always fire on all cylinders, a story of hope and belonging is undoubtedly what the country needs right now. And for many Annie fans, this version will hit the spot."

Brian Lowry, CNN: "'Annie' benefited from its sheer unpretentiousness, offering the can't-miss (or at least miss entirely) combination of cute kids, buoyant dance numbers, a little girl with a big voice, that trademark red dress, and of course a very well-trained dog who shows up just long enough to make everyone swoon."

Emily Yahr, Washington Post: "So if you missed the three-hour broadcast, we can report that it was completely fine. Perfectly pleasant, even. Twelve-year-old Celina Smith, who starred as orphan Annie, was clearly the breakout star and often surpassed the singing ability of the adults around her. She was surrounded by other very talented child actors playing the orphans, who exuded theater kid energy to the highest level - particularly during "It's the Hard Knock Life" - and showed off some acrobatics amid the performances."

Patrick Ryan, USA Today: "The reason that "Annie Live!" works so well is due in large part to Smith's star-making performance, along with some memorable turns from her consummate castmates. Nicole Scherzinger (of the Pussycat Dolls) brings palpable warmth and pathos to the often thankless role of Warbucks' assistant-turned-love interest Grace Farrell, and delivers one of the night's few genuine showstoppers in the jazzy 'We Got Annie.'"

Maureen Lee Lenker and Lauren Huff, Entertainment Weekly: "The latest live TV musical continued the tradition with a feel-good, rousing rendition of crowd-pleaser Annie. It's hard to mess up the winning score from Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin, but NBC crafted a fantastic production with a stellar cast that made for a touching reminder of why this show is a gateway to musical theater for so many kids."

Matt Webb Mitovich, TV Line: "The live production - NBC's sixth such musical in the past eight years, as detailed below - went off with nary a major hitch (save for some wayward cameras and a dropped-out mic here and there), performed in front of a fully vaccinated and masked audience of nearly 500 people."

Kevin Fallon, The Daily Beast: "Celina Smith, the young girl who was cast as Annie, is astonishing. The beauty of her performance though wasn't just the preternatural belting to "Maybe" and "Tomorrow"-which, to continue my point about this being a worse musical than we remember, both happen in the first 10 minutes of the show-it was in the shocking emotion and pathos she brought to the book scenes. Annie has a notoriously terrible script. This is an award-worthy accomplishment."

Caroline Siede, AV Club: "Annie Live! does what these live musicals should have been doing from the start: Pick strong source material, cast it well, and embrace the unique format of live theater, rather than try to turn it into something else. Perfectly paced and anchored by Smith's star-making breakthrough performance, Annie Live! proved to be a lovely way to spend a Thursday night amidst the busy rush of the holiday season and the general scariness of the world right now."

Related Stories
ANNIE LIVE! Wins Emmy For Outstanding Hairstyling Photo
NBC's Annie LIVE! has won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Hairstyling for a Variety, Nonfiction or Reality Program. The Emmy was awarded to Mia Neal, the Department Head Hairstylist, and Leah Loukas, the Assistant Department Head Hairstylist. Annie LIVE! starred Celina Smith, Taraji P. Henson, Harry Connick Jr., Tituss Burgess, and more.

ANNIE LIVE! Draws 5.2 Million Viewers Photo
Annie Live!, NBC's latest live television musical, scored 5.2 million viewers in its broadcast, leading the non-NFL programming on Thursday night. See how Annie's ratings compare to NBC's past live musicals, including The Sound of Music, The Wiz, Hairspray, The Grinch Musical, and more. The musical starred Celina Smith, Taraji P. Henson, and more.

LISTEN: ANNIE LIVE! Soundtrack Out Today Photo
Available everywhere now, the soundtrack features vocals by Harry Connick, Jr., Nicole Scherzinger, Tituss Burgess and Megan Hilty, with newcomer Celina Smith in the titular role of Annie and Taraji P. Henson. The album will also be released in CD format beginning January 21, 2022. Pre-order the CD and stream the new soundtrack now!

Photos: Taraji P. Henson, Harry Connick, Jr. & More in ANNIE LIVE! Photo
Last night, one of the most beloved Broadway musicals came to NBC. Annie LIVE! starred Celina Smith as Annie, Taraji P. Henson as Miss Hannigan, Harry Connick Jr. as Daddy Warbucks, Nicole Scherzinger as Grace, Tituss Burgess as Rooster and Megan Hilty as Lily St. Regis. Check out photos from the broadcast now!

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