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Andrea McArdle Danielle Brisebois and the ensemble in a photograph by Martha Swope courtesy of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
Andrea McArdle Danielle Brisebois and the ensemble in a photograph by Martha Swope courtesy of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
Andrea McArdle Danielle Brisebois and the ensemble in a photograph by Martha Swope courtesy of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Broadway

A Slice of Broadway History: The Original 1977 Annie Cast’s Rare NBC Performance

NOTE: This article is 5 months old and may not include the most recent information.

I recently stumbled upon a remarkable piece of Broadway history on Instagram – rare footage showcasing several of the talented young stars from the original 1977 Broadway production of ‘Annie’ performing on NBC’s Today show.

Host Gene Shalit interviews the actresses who portrayed the spunky orphan girls, including 7-year-old Danielle Brisebois. After their rendition of the iconic song “Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile,” Shalit asks the girls about their audition experiences and balancing their demanding performance schedules with schoolwork.

We gain insight into the personalities of the performers as they recount memories from the audition process. Others share tricks for squeezing in homework between scenes, since not all the orphans appear constantly throughout the musical.

Danielle reveals she skips studying altogether, preferring to entertain herself playing jacks (a popular game of the era involving tossing and catching metal pieces). The young actresses’ camaraderie and wisecracking personalities burst from the screen.

Brisebois in particular steals focus as the production’s youngest orphan Molly. With natural comedic timing beyond her years, Danielle’s witty asides charm both Shalit and the audience. Her vocal stylings also showcase emerging talent that later sparked an acclaimed career. Brisebois later achieved fame as a Hollywood actress and singer-songwriter

But in this rare archival gem, we witness the initial sparks of her blooming talent. And not just Danielle’s – the entire video shines a spotlight on the dynamism and vocal talents that made this original cast iconic. Seeing the palpable rapport between the young performers laughing and hamming it up through the interview, it’s easy to comprehend why they became the heart and soul of this beloved hit musical.

So the next time you view a local production or Hollywood adaptation of this classic show, recall that it originated with these spirited stars bringing optimism and melody to 1970s Broadway stages. And thanks to this fascinating slice of TV history, we can reminisce in their star power even now, over forty years later.

Trevor Decker
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