Monday, April 27, 2020

Tomorrow from Annie—Murfin Home Confinement Music Festival 2020

Tomorrow from Annie sung by Andrea McArdle.

Tomorrow from the 1977 Broadway smash Annie is probably the most hopeful and optimistic anthem of the American stage.  As such it has thoroughly disgusted cynics and sophisticates becoming a perennial favorite of middle brow audiences.  
Harold Grey's Sandy and Annie with those weird blank round eyes.                                                                                                                                                                                                     
Annie was based on Harold Grey’s long-running comics page serial Little Orphan Annie and set smack dab in the middle of the Great Depression featuring the adventures of a plucky waif and her shaggy dog Sandy.  As in the strip, Annie finds reluctant refuge with millionaire war profiteer Daddy Warbucks.  The girl was supposed to represent an up-from-the-bootstraps attitude that didn’t want or need any damn handout.  Grey was an arch-conservative with nothing but disdain and hatred for the socialist New Deal, a position that endeared him to his publisher Colonel Robert R. McCormick of the Chicago Tribune.
Thomas Meehan who wrote the book for the musical had vastly different ideas.  Annie is a symbol of the downtrodden poor.  The New Deal and Franklin D. Roosevelt are themselves beacons of hope.  Annie even sang a reprise of the song directly to FDR.
The song was written by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin.  With different lyrics it was originally intended for a musical version of Flowers for Algernon but was lifted for Annie which was floundering in Washington, D.C. tryouts to beef up the first act.

Andrea McArdle and Reid Shelton as Daddy Warbucks in the original Broadway Production of Annie.
Since Andrea McArdle first took the stage as the moppet thousands of girls—and a handful of boys—have belted out the number in hundreds of stage productions around the world—revivals, tours, regional theater, community, and schools as well as two movies—1982 and 2014— and a Wonderful World of Disney T.V. adaption.
But I will always associate the song with the 2008 shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee where members of two UU congregations gathered to hear a performance of Annie, Jr.  Fortunately the children in the cast had not yet taken the stage when a deranged gunman opened up killing four and wounding several others.  The next day at a memorial service organized by churches and congregations across Knoxville the children demanded to be allowed to sing Tomorrow.  There was not a dry eye in the crowd and I was moved to write a poem, Knoxville: 7/27/2008 10:26 a.m.

Today we will hear the original Annie singing Tomorrow on the 1977 Tony Awards TV broadcast.

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