leave your inhibitions at the door
It’s theater time again here in Ann Arbor! This time around, one of The Pieholes is in Young Peoples Theater’s production of Annie.
As always, the kids are so good in this that I’m actually digging Annie. This is a minor miracle because, honestly, I was not really looking forward to it. I had never seen it on stage so my only exposure to Annie was the 1982 film version directed by the great John Huston. To put it mildly, that film sucked. Badly. Horrendously. Colossally.
Musicals on film obviously don’t have the physical limitations of the stage. In fact, making a movie in such a space would be really boring and confined. So filmmakers have to expand the set and overall scope. I think that works well in cases like Les Miserables, where you can have large scenes with hundreds of people in a mob. But there are only a couple scenes in Annie that benefit from it.
The other thing that happens is that the people adapting it to film take it upon themselves to “make improvements” to songs. With the 1982 movie, the one that I reluctantly saw for a second and third time, all the changes were disastrous. A lot of the songs ended up getting stretched out through unnecessary dialog and action. So a 2-3 minute song like “Hard Knock Life” doubled to 5 minutes. Overall, the film bloated out Elvis-style to well over 2 hours long.
They also added some completely terrible songs like “Let’s go to the movies,” while cutting out a great song like “NYC”
And “I Don’t Need Anything But You” was only an afterthought -
The videos above were from the 1999 Disney made-for-tv version. I didn’t see it but, based on these clips, it looks considerably better.
One prop I will give to the 1982 version is that they included the character of Punjab, Warbucks’ servant/bodyguard from the original comic strip. Well, actually, the character’s inclusion was completely nonsensical. But c’mon Geoffrey Holder is AWESOME!
Apparently, Jay Z and Will Smith have teamed up to make an updated version. It’s currently in production and will be released in 2014. It has Quvenzhane Wallis as Annie, Jamie Foxx as the Warbucks-based character Benjamin Stacks, and Cameron Diaz as Miss Hannigan. Sandra Bullock was to be the original Hannigan, Willow Smith was supposed to be the original Annie, and it was supposed to be directed by Glee’s Ryan Murphy. They all dropped out. You know that when that many people drop out of a movie like that – INCLUDING ONE OF THE PRODUCERS’ DAUGHTER – it’s going to be a complete mess.
Jay Z should’ve stuck with this Annie remake.