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Blu-ray Review Annie: 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray review (1 Viewer)

MatthewA

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During the Great Depression of the 1930s, redheaded orphan Annie (Aileen Quinn) escapes from the clutches of the hateful Miss Hannigan (Carol Burnett) to spend a week living in luxury with billionaire Oliver Warbucks (Albert Finney). Though distant at first, Warbucks eventually grows to care enough about her to want to adopt her. Annie, John Huston’s vibrant, colorful, occasionally rambling adaptation of Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin’s revered 1977 Broadway musical features memorable performances from an unbeatable cast. Sony’s 30th Anniversary Blu-ray offers only a small helping of extras, but its picture and sound, despite three missing sound effects, exceed all prior video incarnations. Recommended with a reservation.



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Annie: 30th Anniversary Edition (1982)


Studio: Sony


Year: 1982


Rated: PG


Length: 127 Minutes


Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1


Resolution: 1080p


Languages: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, French Dolby Digital 2.0, German Dolby Digital 2.0, Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0, Italian Dolby Digital 4.0


Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Japanese, German, Italian, Arabic, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hindi, Norwegian, Swedish, Turkish


MSRP: $14.99


Film Release Date: May 21, 1982


Disc Release Date: October 2, 2012


Review Date: October 15, 2012




“The sun’ll come out tomorrow.


Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there’ll be sun.”



The Movie:


3.5/5



The decline of newspapers in the face of new media technologies has taken its toll on a venerable institution known as the comic strip. In 2010, Tribune announced the end of Little Orphan Annie, a strip started in 1924 by Harold Gray (1894-1968). Her curly red hair, pupil-less eyes, optimistic attitude and international adventures made her an American icon during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Her popularity wasn’t just limited to comic strips, eventually spawning a radio serial. During the country’s next great economic crisis in the recession of the 1970s, the strip's principal characters made the jump to Broadway by way of Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin’s seven-time Tony Award-winning musical Annie, which has just started its second Broadway revival. While Hollywood had attempted to bring the character to the screen in 1932 and 1938, she wouldn’t be seen on celluloid again until 1982, when Columbia Pictures brought the musical to the screen.



In 1933, as Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Edward Herrmann) is serving his second hundred days as President, 10-year-old orphan Annie (Aileen Quinn) lives a life of squalor at the Hudson Street Home for Girls in New York City. As she and her fellow orphans endure a life of emotional—and occasional physical—abuse from Miss Hannigan (Carol Burnett), the orphanage’s perpetually drunk, embittered, lovelorn manager, Annie dreams of the possibility of seeing her parents again. After rescuing a shaggy dog named Sandy, her chance for a better life comes when Grace Farrell (Ann Reinking), personal secretary to billionaire industrialist Oliver Warbucks (Albert Finney), stops by the orphanage to look for a girl to bring to Warbucks’ palatial Fifth Avenue estate for a week, a publicity stunt calculated to show his concern for the poor. Despite Miss Hannigan’s protests, Grace chooses Annie. While she grows accustomed to her new surroundings very quickly, and the staff, including Warbucks’ stoic Indian bodyguard Punjab (Geoffrey Holder), learns to love her just as quickly, the temperamental Warbucks, a self-made man who comes from background similar to Annie’s, finds her an acquired taste. But by the end of their week together, capped off by his renting out Radio City Music Hall for a private screening of Camille, he has a change of heart and decides to adopt her. However, she turns down his offer, telling him that after she was born, her parents left her at the orphanage with a locket, breaking off half of it in order to use it to claim her someday. With the aid of his numerous connections in both the public and private sectors, Warbucks launches a radio campaign on Bert Healy’s (Peter Marshall) radio show, offering $50,000 to Annie’s parents, which gives Miss Hannigan’s ex-con little brother Rooster (Tim Curry) and his ditzy girlfriend Lily St. Regis (Bernadette Peters) an idea of how to pull themselves out of poverty.


What makes Annie work is how shamelessly entertaining it is. Everyone in the cast seems to be having the time of their lives, and their performances are totally in sync with the film’s heightened reality. With a performance unusually reminiscent of the director, Albert Finney is larger than life as Warbucks. His facial reactions in the White House version of “Tomorrow” provide the film with one of its funniest moments, diffusing its sentimentality effectively. In every scene she’s in, Carol Burnett steals the show with her deliciously wicked Miss Hannigan, showing off her uncanny ability to go over the top and still retain her humanity. Ann Reinking is charming as Grace Farrell, getting ample opportunity to strut her stuff in two new numbers: “Let’s Go to the Movies” and “We Got Annie.” Tim Curry and Bernadette Peters are fine choices as Rooster and Lily, and probably the best singers out of the whole cast, but they’re underused, especially Ms. Peters. Aileen Quinn, who beat out 8,000 other girls for the coveted title role, gives it a tomboyish twist, full of street smarts, but with a big heart underneath. Though her voice is much smaller than the “belt” voice usually associated with the role, she sings with clarity, enthusiasm and energy. There’s some intangible quality in her that makes Annie’s boundless optimism in the face of a cruel world seem perfectly believable. The other orphans seem to function more as a unit than as individual characters, but Toni Ann Gisondi and Rosanne Sorrentino stand out as Molly and Pepper, respectively.



This may have been a 1980s movie, but except for Warbucks’ political beliefs, it’s not of the 1980s. It’s a 1930s period piece whose production is still in the late 1960s roadshow mindset. Compared to the likes of the Vincente Minnellis and Stanley Donens, John Huston may have been a novice at musicals, but his efforts here certainly surpass most others who tried their hands at musicals around the same time. Though the framing is sometimes too tight, he wisely refrains from the smoke-and-mirrors music video editing techniques soon to be popularized by MTV, instead trying to use as many long or medium-length takes as possible without feeling stagebound, even incorporating some sly visual gags into the mix. Choreographer Arlene Phillips gives the dancing an impromptu feel in many scenes, which somehow seems organic to the characters. The numbers at the orphanage are deliberately rough and chaotic, while those in the mansion and elsewhere are more polished. These elements combine to keep the pace moving even when the story starts to veer off-course and the production starts to indulge in its elaborate surroundings.



Like many screen adaptations of Broadway shows, Annie plays fast and loose with its source material, which, in turn, took many liberties with the comic strip. Ray Stark later admitted he didn’t like the show and didn’t want to make a faithful film version; under the circumstances, it’s astounding the film is as good as it is! Seeking a middle ground between the two sources, screenwriter Carol Sobieski moves the setting from Christmas to the summer, amplifies the play’s darker aspects and incorporates some of the mysticism and fantasy of the original strip. It retains much of the basic story structure and attitude towards FDR and the New Deal, but focuses more on the main story. The score undergoes changes, too. Most of the best songs are there—though the immortal “Tomorrow” inexplicably becomes an opening credits song, in a manner reminiscent of 1940s and 1950s Disney animated films, and “Easy Street” loses its first verse—while Strouse and Charnin were brought in to write five new ones, the best of which is “Sign,” an amusing duet between Burnett and Finney. Some integrate into the story better than others; “Let’s Go to the Movies” is a catchy song and a splashy number, but it has less to do with the plot than the film’s wistful nostalgia for a long-gone era of moviemaking, though in all fairness, it does come after the plot’s weakest point: as Warbucks and Annie get to know one another during their week together. In contrast to the rest of the film, the initial development of their relationship’s emotional arc seems rushed. A scene with a bomb-throwing Bolshevik goes nowhere, The New Deal only gets lip service at best, despite the best efforts of Edward Herrmann as our 32nd president; he also played the role in the 1970s Eleanor and Franklin mini-series. Also, there are some obvious editing mistakes; watch the lips of staff singing “Tomorrow” in the background in the last shot of the film. And it would have taken all of ten seconds to explain how Miss Hannigan avoided jail for her part in the kidnapping long enough to end up riding on an elephant at Annie’s adoption party. Little things like these are difficult to overlook, but they don’t negate the good parts.



Annie grossed $57,059,003 domestically, coming in 10th place for the year in the face of an intensely competitive summer line-up that included E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (the top-grossing film of all-time until 1997), Poltergeist, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Rocky III, An Officer and a Gentleman and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Though its domestic intake was insufficient to cover its enormous (by 1982 standards) production costs, and Hollywood gave no awards to anyone for their efforts in the film, it appears to have had a healthy second life on home video and TV. Ironically, it is Huston’s highest-grossing film.



The Video:


4/5



To say that Annie had a hard-knock life on DVD would be an understatement. It first DVD came out in 2000 with a misframed transfer that was recalled and corrected, but quickly discontinued. Sony released a “Special Anniversary Edition” in 2004, upgrading the soundtrack from a muffled 2.0 track to a 5.1 DTS track—while presenting the film in a pan-and-scan transfer! Happily, this Blu-ray preserves the original 2.40:1 ratio of Richard Moore’s Panavision cinematography. The AVC-encoded transfer is free from moiré, video noise or DNR. Saturation is relatively strong, but never garish, even during the most ostentatious parts. The colors are appropriately drab and neutral at the orphanage, but they become brighter and more vivid in the exteriors at Warbucks’ mansion. Contrast is strong, black levels are deep, and whites are bright without getting blown out. Grain is light, but a few shots have higher levels than the overwhelming majority of them. Sharpness varies from shot to shot. The sharper shots reveals details no DVD could ever reveal, but it appears numerous shots seem to have used diffusion filters, thus making them softer naturally. I had no part in making the film, and I wasn’t alive for the film’s theatrical release, so I can neither compare it to the original release prints nor make a definitive call on its accuracy, but it is better than any past video version I’ve seen.



The Audio:


3/5



Originally released in Dolby Stereo (with some 70mm blow-ups in six track stereo), the film has been treated to an upgrade to 5.1 DTS-HD MA that really makes Ralph Burns’ Oscar-nominated orchestrations come alive. It comes in clearly and powerfully with vibrant high ends, strong bass and clear vocals. The sound effects don’t have the same level of sonic power as the score. The dialogue has average fidelity and is inconsistent in volume. Those sound like they are inherent to the source, but what’s more troubling it has three missing sounds:



—00:00:20: When the Columbia logo fades out, there are supposed to be drums as the logo music transitions into “Tomorrow,” but they aren’t there.


—00:15:42: As Annie defends herself against a boy in the alley, he grunts as she punches him in the gut. Those grunts are nowhere to be heard.


—02:05:25: There is supposed to be a harp glissando over the last half bar of “Tomorrow” before it transitions into an instrumental version of “Little Girls,” but it is gone.



For those wanting to hear how the songs sound in other languages, the disc offers French, German, Japanese, Spanish and Italian tracks. The aforementioned problems don’t occur on any of these tracks.



The Extras:


2/5



While those hoping for a fully dressed special edition will be disappointed, the disc still has a modest selection of features. All extras are 1080p and 16x9 unless noted otherwise.



—Sing Along with Annie: An option to either watch the film’s songs separately or to watch the movie with flashing subtitles.



My Hollywood Adventure with Aileen Quinn (480p, 12:04): The now-grown Ms. Quinn returns to the still-standing Hudson Street set for a short behind-the-scenes look at the film’s production. Created for the 2004 DVD, it includes footage of her screen test and clips from the late Andrew J. Kuehn’s informative documentary Lights, Camera, Annie!, made for PBS to promote the film upon its release.



—Play! Music Video: “It’s the Hard-Knock Life” (480p, 4x3, 3:20): A Swedish-based teen pop group performs a synthesized version of the song.



—Original Trailers and TV spots:


• Theatrical Trailer (3:40, 2.40:1)


• Behind The Scenes Teaser Trailer (2:08): Among other things, this trailer reveals production footage of the originally intended, more elaborate version of “Easy Street.”


• TV Spot #1 (1:03)


• TV Spot #2 (0:33)


• TV Spot #3 (0:33)



—Preview for Arthur Christmas (1:28)



—UV Digital Copy



Gone from the old DVD are the “Act Along With Annie” and “The Age of Annie” featurettes. In addition, the original Region 2 DVD had a mono isolated score track that has never appeared anywhere else.



Final Score:


3.5/5



After 30 years, John Huston’s Annie remains an engaging, old-fashioned spectacle with a lavish, colorful period production, memorable music and deliciously over-the-top performances by a stellar cast. Despite the lack of a more substantial supplement section, the sun has finally come out for the film in terms of its technical presentation, though three sounds are missing. Recommended with a minor reservation.
 

WadeM

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Speaking of missing sound effects, I'm not familiar with the film, but I noticed when watching this blu-ray that when Warbucks throws a clock, it's surprisingly quiet. Shouldn't we hear the clock hitting the floor?
Edit: I watched the scene again and it was a camera, not a clock (was going from memory from a week or 2 earlier!). The sound effect is there, but kinda quiet, IMO.
 

Maybe Sony needs to be made aware of this. Sounds like during the 5.1 remix, mistakes were made. This poor movie has the worst luck on home video.
 

RetroGuy

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Colin Jacobson said:
One of the worst films ever made!
I have to agree with you. I loved the Broadway production and saw it about 4-5 times, so I was quite excited to see the movie when it was released. I was horribly disappointed by the all of the changes that were made, including many of the performances, and thought that the new songs didn't hold a candle to the ones they replaced. The TV version that Disney produced, though considerably shorter and also missings some songs from the Broadway score, is far superior to the movie version.
 

NY2LA

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A lot of talent gone to waste. Reinking - the most glaringly unfamous lead in the cast, got the role (and a contract) Peters should have had (and two new numbers) because she was schtupping the head of Columbia... (I should say they got married. but then divorced and no more film roles) ...the movie is grossly overproduced - the show had charm because the little girls acted like little girls, in this monstrosity they become like the June Taylor Dancers, choreographed by Busby Berkeley. When they started doing handsprings, then the staircase, I thought it was just a matter of time before they laid down and made a pattern on the floor. When the director hates the show he should go direct something else! Big mistake getting rid of NYC just to give Annie R screen time, Stupid to blow the big song over the credits and put a lame one in it's place. Best thing you can say of this is they didn't ruin the show as badly as Sir Dickie did Chorus Line. I much prefer Disney's remake, which at least retains some charm. Someone should remake ACL.
Um... nice review, though. Tech and presentation info very useful. Good to know about the missing sounds! And every movie has its fans. My guess is this one has fans that maybe didn't see the show when it opened...
 

Colin Jacobson

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Originally Posted by NY2LA /t/324494/annie-30th-anniversary-edition-blu-ray-review#post_3989334
A lot of talent gone to waste. Reinking - the most glaringly unfamous lead in the cast, got the role (and a contract) Peters should have had (and two new numbers) because she was schtupping the head of Columbia... the movie is grossly overproduced - the show had charm because the little girls acted like little girls, in this monstrosity they become like the June Taylor Dancers, choreographed by Busby Berkeley. When they started doing handsprings, then the staircase, I thought it was just a matter of time before they laid down and made a pattern on the floor. When the director hates the show he should go direct something else! Big mistake getting rid of NYC just to give Annie R screen time, Stupid to blow the big song over the credits and put a lame one in it's place. Best thing you can say of this is they didn't ruin the show as badly as Sir Dickie did Chorus Line. I much prefer Disney's remake, which at least retains some charm. Someone should remake ACL.
Um... nice review, though. Tech and presentation info very useful. Good to know about the missing sounds! And every movie has its fans. My guess is this one has fans that maybe didn't see the show when it opened...

I suspect a lot of the movie's fans were kids when it first came out. That's been my experience with the film's fans: they saw it when they were young and loved it...
 

Everett S.

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I did not hate it, I could not understand the change of the holidays:rolleyes: And while I like C. Burnett I thought she played the part too heavy. It's been on Comcast On Demand for months in the correct framing, but was unwatchable due to all the sound coming from the left channel:rolleyes: But at $8.00 I will get it on Blu.
 

Mikey1969

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My liking of this film is purely nostalgia. When I see it today, it's easy to see some of the woefully poor choices made in direction, casting, etc. I'll still probably pick it up if the price is right.
 

The missing sound effects/music is weird. Why would certain instruments be missing from a completed music track? Why would certain sound effects be gone when others are there in the same shot? Was a special mix created for television or the 70mm mix?
 

GMpasqua

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Originally Posted by NY2LA /t/324494/annie-30th-anniversary-edition-blu-ray-review#post_3989334
A lot of talent gone to waste. Reinking - the most glaringly unfamous lead in the cast, got the role (and a contract) Peters should have had (and two new numbers) because she was schtupping the head of Columbia.
Reinking had just come off "All That Jazz" where she stopped the film with her dance number with the little girl actress playing Fosse's Daughter. Plus she had starred in "Dancin" and was a replacement Cassie in " A Chorus Line"

Why wouldn't she be cast in the role? I don't think her relationship had as much to do with her casting (it couldn't hurt) but she was more than qualified to play the role and does a very good job (though she should have been given more to dance)
 

NY2LA

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GMpasqua said:
Reinking had just come off "All That Jazz" where she stopped the film with her dance number with the little girl actress playing Fosse's Daughter. Plus she had starred in "Dancin" and was a replacement Cassie in " A Chorus Line"
Why wouldn't she be cast in the role? I don't think her relationship had as much to do with her casting (it couldn't hurt) but she was more than qualified to play the role and does a very good job (though she should have been given more to dance)
Because Broadway noteriety does not automatically make a movie star. Chorus Line was deliberately not a star vehicle as it made a point of poking at the very concept. Dancin' was an ensemble show and had no stars except Fosse. You could say the same things about Donna McKechnie - stopping shows and being beloved far beyond Reinking, and SHE didn't get the star treatment in any films. Annie R had neither star power nor a star name, and she is the ONLY lead/principal in ANNIE who didn't. Even her IMDB bio admits she is known for her dancing rather than her acting.
I've met Annie R and was around to see her several times in Chorus Line, and at rehearsals and the gypsy run-through of Dancin' - including the day when she asked "Bobby" if he would let them record the vocal to Yankee Doodle Dandy because his jumpy choreography, as she demonstrated, gave her a shaky voice. Fosse said "nice vibrato" but they did pretape that song by the time it opened.
Reinking was hardly in demand for movies, before or after Annie the Movie. The only way that cute little number with Nicole in All That Jazz could stop the movie is if someone hit the pause button. All That Jazz, which she got because of her relationship with Fosse, was three years before Annie, and yet she had done nothing else on screen inbetween and only one picture after, also made for Columbia, which her husband ran, so...
 

NY2LA

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Mikey1969 said:
My liking of this film is purely nostalgia. When I see it today, it's easy to see some of the woefully poor choices made in direction, casting, etc. I'll still probably pick it up if the price is right.
There are certainly plenty of movies that aren't considered gems that I like because I grew up on them...
 

Rick Thompson

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What makes anyone think that Bernadette Peters would have gotten the part of Grace Farrell if Ann Reinking didn't? It's not like she's a major movie star; her name on the marquee doesn't even guarantee Broadway success (just ask the producers of Gypsy).
And do you really think anyone could tell John Huston who to cast? This is a guy who threw out a big and expensive production number ("Easy Street") after it had been filmed, and reshot it as a much smaller number closer to the original.
The fact is, Grace is a straightforward part, not a kewpie doll (Peters' shtik) — which is why Reinking is better for the part than Peters would have been.
 

Virgoan

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Despite the anachronisms, the Disney TV version was head and shoulders above the movie. It had life and spirit and embraced the tunefulness of the time (and despite the depression, some of the most optimistic songs ever written came out of that era).
The score to "Annie" is very badly served by this film by Huston.
 

bryan4999

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I am hoping that Disney will someday release the TV version on blu-ray. I believe it was done on film, so hopefully it has the potential to look pretty good on blu-ray. Although the 1982 film has grown on me a bit over the years, after having seen the show on Broadway and on tour, I was really disappointed in it when it came out. I like the TV movie alot, but there are three things I really miss: the complete scene where Grace first meets Annie (when Annie is cuing her from behind Miss Hannigan as to her hair color, etc.); the complete Bert Healy radio scene; and the "Tomorrow" scene with FDR and his Cabinet.
 

NY2LA

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Rick Thompson said:
What makes anyone think that Bernadette Peters would have gotten the part of Grace Farrell if Ann Reinking didn't? It's not like she's a major movie star; her name on the marquee doesn't even guarantee Broadway success (just ask the producers of Gypsy).
And do you really think anyone could tell John Huston who to cast? This is a guy who threw out a big and expensive production number ("Easy Street") after it had been filmed, and reshot it as a much smaller number closer to the original.
The fact is, Grace is a straightforward part, not a kewpie doll (Peters' shtik) — which is why Reinking is better for the part than Peters would have been.
Peters was an established star and had a name. (Yes mugging is part of her schtick - which I've observed in live theatre she relies on to compensate only when her voice falters - but she was most famous for being able to produce tears when she sang) Whether or not she would specifically have been cast as Grace wasn't my point. She actually starred on Broadway and was on Carol Burnett and talk/variety shows - America also knew her. Having done seven movies and countless TV appearances before Annie, she was popular far beyond Broadway. My mother knew who she was!
Reinking, who wasn't much known beyond Manhattan, was the only non-star in a leading role (except for Quinn) in Annie. Even Geoffrey Holder - in a lesser role, was better known than Reinking. If she was such a terrific actress, why didn't anyone (who wasn't involved with her) cast her in a movie after this? Gypsy isn't a very good example as that show has been done to death on Broadway. Book An Evening with Bernadette Peters into the Shubert for a week and An Evening With Anne Reinking (if you even could) for another week and see who would sell better. Reinking could dance. Peters can entertain.
Yeah I do think Huston was not so committed to the casting that he would have ignored the head of the studio saying Reinking should have the role. As for reshooting Easy Street - he was shortsighted enough to have encouraged the overproduced version in the first place. The whole movie is overproduced, so he's strong because he reshot one number? What about turning the little girls dancing in the orphanage into a big production number? What about dumping NYC for a huge production number that featured Guess Who? Remember Huston didn't like the show in the first place. Who can look at this movie and think Easy Street was his only bad decision?
For the record, don't read too much passion into this stuff I'm saying. I don't HATE this movie. I've watched it a few times, and even had it on disc for a while when I was building "a collection" (which I had to sell off long ago). I can be mildly amused by the remaining talent and entertainment value in the picture, but one has to over look that it IS way overproduced, and there were lots of Well Known talented, appealing overall-performers (sing-dance-act equally well) they could have cast rather than a featured dancer from Broadway who married the studio head.
 

NY2LA

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Virgoan said:
Despite the anachronisms, the Disney TV version was head and shoulders above the movie. It had life and spirit and embraced the tunefulness of the time (and despite the depression, some of the most optimistic songs ever written came out of that era).
The score to "Annie" is very badly served by this film by Huston.
Agreed. I tend to watch the TV version every Christmas. I only hope they shot it closer to 16.9 so we could have a nice full (current) screen Blu Ray. The kids acted like kids. Kathy Bates is good in practically anything, Victor Garber is a Broadway and movie musical vet (Godspell) with a good voice (and a nice guy). The role of Grace requires a more of a singer than a dancer. I happily overlook the nontraditional and maybe anachronistic casting of Audra McDonald because she is very talented and appealing (and pretty) with a nice voice, also a broadway musical pro/star, and most important, she has the warmth that Reinking couldn't fake. I don't know if Warbucks would have fallen for her in the actual period, but just look at her, he should! Yeah that TV version of Annie has a lot going for it.
 

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