What does it take: Singing "Annie"
Posted Monday, August 22nd 2022 by Zac Bradford
In "What Does It Take?," the NYVC team examines the vocal demands, challenges, and joys of roles in Musical Theatre. This time Zac Bradford breaks down the "hard knocks" of singing the role of Annie.
Annie is one of the most well-known musicals in Broadway history. With a libretto by Thomas Meehan and a score by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin, Annie opened on Broadway in 1977. Since then it has been produced all over the world as well as adapted for film and TV multiple times. As a voice teacher and music director I have had the opportunity to work with many young singers auditioning and preparing for the role of Annie.
Annie is an orphan whose goal is to find her parents. She appears in almost every scene of the show. A young actor must learn a large amount of dialogue, dig for emotional depth, and SING!
The role of Annie is a vocally demanding part for an actor. It requires a wide vocal range from a low A3 to High F5. That's nearly two octaves. Range is not all when it comes to Annie. Singing Annie takes powerful breath control and the ability to use a variety of vocal “mixes." Watch Aileen Quinn demonstrate all of these skills effortlessly in the ballad “Maybe.”
A wide vocal range with the ability to resonate with vibrancy and clarity is needed in the show stopping number “It's a Hard Knock Life.” The repeated high F5’s are impressive, as they require a vocal ”mix” with the ideal balance of power and flexibility. Enjoy this clip where Annie is joined by the other orphans for extra punch!
The signature tune of the show, “Tomorrow,” requires range in acting, dynamics, vocal registers, pitch, and the list goes on... On top of the vocal challenges, the performer must act believably with Annie's lovable canine companion, Sandy. Watch actress Lilla Crawford deliver a nuanced performance with brilliant vocal control beyond her years.
The original Annie on Broadway in 1977 was remarkable Andrea McArdle. Since then a number of well known performers have performed the role. Perhaps the most notable of these is star Sarah Jessica Parker who took over the part on Broadway in 1979. She was the third Annie of the historic six-year run. This rare clip includes Parker, McArdle and two other early Annies, Shelley Bruce and Allison Smith.
Annie is a dream role for young actresses around the world. Any aspiring Annies should focus on building range, mix, and control if they, too, want to shine (like the top of the Chrysler Building)!
Director of NYVC Australia/Voice Teacher Associate
Zac Bradford is the Director of NYVC Australia. His clients have reached the Top 10 on the Billboard charts, have been featured in Hollywood films, TV shows, have worked as backing singers for AAA touring artists, and are performing on Broadway, Off-Broadway, 1st US Tours, internationally, and more. His clients also perform in famous live music venues including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Blue Note, Rockwood Music Hall and The Bitter End.
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