Taraji P. Henson on Her ‘Dream Come True’ Role in NBC’s ‘Annie Live!'

The award-winning actress steps into a part previously played by Carol Burnett. Harry Connick, Jr., stars as Daddy Warbucks.

Posted in , Dec 2, 2021

The cast of NBC's Annie Live!

Are you ready for some live theater? Then turn on your television! The beloved Broadway musical Annie, which first premiered in 1977, will be performed live tonight on NBC. The star-studded cast features Selina Smith, Nicole Scherzinger, Tituss Burgess, Megan Hilty and Guideposts cover stars Taraji P. Henson and Harry Connick, Jr.

The musical tells the story of a little girl in the Depression era, who goes from an orphanage in lower Manhattan to living in luxury with billionaire Daddy Warbucks. With half of a locket as her only possession, Annie remains optimistic that she will find her parents someday. The musical garnered seven Tony awards and features popular songs like “Tomorrow,” “It’s the Hard Knock Life,” “Easy Street,” “Maybe, ”You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” and “I Don’t Need Anything But You.”

Connick, who appeared on our August/September 2021 cover, steps into the legendary role of Daddy Warbucks. In that cover story, he told us about the emotional process of recording a new album during the pandemic. “In the end, the music that I recorded during the lockdown became an album, one conceived in isolation but something I had to share, an album I entitled Alone With My Faith. The music came from that place of deep thought and solitude, a place that I’m grateful I had the chance to spend so much time in.”

Henson, whose roots are in musical theater and who sang the show’s classic “Tomorrow” at her kindergarten graduation, plays the Queen of Mean, Miss Hannigan. In our February 2017 cover story Henson shared what led her to acting and how she overcame fear to live her God-given purpose. “I’d stand in front of the full-length mirror and sing into a makeshift microphone, imagining I was on Soul Train,” she told us. “Or I was Lucille Ball in one of her TV sketches, rolling up my pants, stepping into a barrel of grapes and feeling the disgusting squish of the fruit between my toes. I wanted to be an actress more than anything.”

Henson recently told Extra that landing the role of Miss Hannigan is a dream come true, because seeing an African-American in any traditionally white role, was more than she could have imagined when she was growing up. She follows in the footsteps of many actresses who have portrayed the iconic role since the show opened on Broadway in 1977, including Nell Carter, the first Black actress to play Miss Hannigan on Broadway and Carol Burnett, who portrayed her in the 1982 film adaption.

Burnett told us about a mysterious benefactor who helped the legendary comedian launch her career in our October 1977 cover story. “He never told me his reasons for helping me in the manner he did, but as the years have gone by I've been able to unravel the mystery of this man, at least to my own satisfaction, and in the process I've discovered a powerful spiritual principle to use in my own life.”

Henson is thrilled to follow in Burnett’s footsteps. “I love and have studied the great Carol Burnett,” she told Extra. “And I just hope I make her proud.”

Annie Live! airs Thursday, Dec. 2 at 8 PM ET on NBC. 

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