‘Annie Live!’: 6 Best Moments from the Live NBC Musical

Felice Kakaletris as Molly, Celina Smith as Annie in Annie Live!
Virginia Sherwood/NBC

NBC‘s latest live TV musical was a big hit with audiences on Thursday night as the cast of Annie Live! kicked off the holiday season in the right way.

Starring newcomer Celina Smith in the title role, the beloved musical made a big impression on viewers with its fantastically choreographed routines and spellbinding performances. The show was helmed by Taraji P. Henson as Miss Hannigan, Harry Connick Jr. as Daddy Warbucks, Tituss Burgess as Rooster, Megan Hilty as Lily St. Regis, and Nicole Scherzinger as Grace.

Below are six of the best moments from the Annie Live! special.

Annie and the Orphans Perform Hard-Knock Life

“It’s the Hard-Knock Life” is one of the most iconic songs in stage musical history, and the young cast of Annie Live! did it justice on Thursday night. In the first ensemble performance of the night, the number incorporated aerial acrobatics and an amazing step dance to bring a modern twist to the cherished classic.

Celina Smith Shines as Annie

Newcomer Celina Smith will not remain unknown for much longer. The young actor — who was chosen for the role after a nationwide search — stole the show with a heartfelt performance. Smith’s vocals were electric for her renditions of classics like “Maybe” and “Tomorrow.” And she brought the right mix of tween cheek and relatable vulnerability to bring Annie to life.

Celina Smith and Sandy in Annie Live!

Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Sandy the Dog Makes an Appearance

It was unclear if Sandy the dog would be part of this edition of Annie, having not been mentioned in the cast announcements. Thankfully, the fan-favorite pet was on hand for an adorable performance as Annie’s trusty companion. Maybe the most well-behaved animal actor ever?!

Daddy Warbucks Plays the Piano

While Connick Jr.’s bald cap was mightily distracting, the Grammy-winning singer brought a sense of fun to the role of the rich and philanthropic benefactor. This was perhaps most evident in a scene where Daddy Warbucks showed off his piano skills, much to Annie’s surprise.

Celina Smith, Nicole Scherzinger, Harry Connick Jr in Annie Live!

Zach Dilgard/NBC

Nicole Scherzinger Gets Teary

Most expected Scherzinger to nail her performance as Grace due to her stellar vocals and dance background. But perhaps more surprising was the warmth and emotion she brought to the role. Smith’s Annie even got the Masked Singer panelist in tears on more than one occasion.

Tituss Burgess & Megan Hilty Make for Fun Double Act

While Smith, Sherzinger, and others brought the emotion and vulnerability, Burgess and Hilty provided the laughs as Rooster and Lily. The scenes of them plotting their con against Daddy Warbucks had the live audience in fits of giggles.