‘Empire’ Star Taraji P. Henson Cast as Villain in NBC’s ‘Annie Live!’

Taraji P. Henson and American Express Launch
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Academy Award-nominated actress Taraji P. Henson has landed the role of infamous villain Miss Hannigan in NBC’s upcoming holiday production of Annie Live!.

The network is set to begin a nationwide casting search for an as yet undiscovered young star to play the titular role of Annie alongside Henson. The live production of the popular Tony Award-winning hit musical will air Thursday, December 2 on NBC as part of the network’s holiday programming.

“When we decided to bring back NBC’s holiday musical tradition, we were looking for something that was critically acclaimed and universally beloved – and while that’s definitely the case with Annie, it absolutely applies to Taraji as well,” said Susan Rovner, Chairman, Entertainment Content, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming. “Watching her take on this iconic role will be a thrill that has all the makings of must-watch television.”

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Annie Live! will be the first live musical for NBC since Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert in 2018. Before then, the holiday specials had become somewhat of a tradition after 2013’s Sound of Music Live! earned the broadcaster more than 18 million viewers. Now, with a Golden Globe-winning star like Henson on board, the network will be hoping for similar success this winter.

“Carol Burnett, who brought Miss Hannigan to life in the classic 1982 movie, is someone I have studied and idolized as far back as I can remember,” said Henson, who received an Oscar nomination for her role in David Fincher‘s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. “So when the opportunity came to me to join NBC and this incredible group of producers, I jumped! Carol, I hope to do you proud!”

Robert Greenblatt, Neil Meron, and Alex Rudzinsky will serve as executive producers with Lear deBessonet and Alex Rudzinski sharing the directing duties. Sergio Trujillo will lead the choreography, while Paul Tazewell will handle costume design. Jason Sherwood is in charge of production design, with Stephen Oremus overseeing the music direction. Chloe Productions will produce the live event.

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Auditions to discover the next Annie are now underway as hopefuls can upload their audition videos at https://castittalent.com/Annie_Live. According to the casting notice, the production is looking for a female of any ethnicity to play an optimistic, spunky, honest, forthright young girl who is wise beyond her years. “Must have an excellent voice with a strong high belt, great comedic timing and excellent dance skills,” reads the notice.