Taraji P. Henson is set to play the villainous Miss Hannigan in ‘Annie Live’

On Easy Street, there’s a new nasty queen. Taraji P. Henson will portray the evil Miss Hannigan in Annie Live!, NBC’s production of the Tony-winning musical, which will premiere in December.

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The former Empire actor, who has been nominated for three Emmys and an Oscar, will portray the most awful orphanage operator in the 1982 film adaptation of Annie, which was portrayed by Carol Burnett.

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It’s the show’s first casting, as NBC continues to look for the musical’s young star. Carol Burnett, who played Miss Hannigan in the iconic 1982 film, is someone Henson has studied and adored for as long as he can remember. “So when the chance to join NBC and this wonderful group of creators presented itself, I leaped at it. Carol, I hope I can live up to your expectations.” Henson was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, and her portrayal as Cookie Lyon on Fox’s Empire, which ended in 2020, earned her a Golden Globe, a SAG Award, and other accolades. For her supporting performance in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, she was nominated for an Academy Award (2008).

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Annie Live!, which premieres on Thursday, December 2, is the latest musical to be adapted for a live holiday television adaption since NBC popularised the idea in 2013 with The Sound of Music Live! starring Carrie Underwood.

“We were looking for something that was critically acclaimed and universally beloved when we decided to bring back NBC’s holiday musical tradition, and while that is definitely the case with Annie, it also applies to Taraji,” said Susan Rovner, Chairman of Entertainment Content at NBCUniversal Television and Streaming. “Watching her take on such a legendary character will be a thrilling experience that has all the makings of must-see television.”

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The musical has music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and a book by Thomas Meehan, and is based on the popular comic strip Little Orphan Annie. The original Broadway production, which won seven Tony Awards and played for nearly six years, featured the now-standard songs “Tomorrow” and “It’s the Hard Knock Life.” Several times, notably in 1982, 1999, and 2014, the musical has been adapted for cinema.

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