Thursday, April 12, 2012

"One day I'll land in a nut house with all the nuts and the squirrels. There I'll stay tucked away 'til the prohibition of little girls."*

        I don’t care what anyone says, Annie rocks and I’m never going to get over it.
        Before I get ahead of myself, I’d like to say that this has (next to) nothing to do with the summer of 1992, when my mom dropped my sister Lizzy and I off at the Emmy Gifford Children’s Theater in Omaha, NE, and told us we were going to be in a play. (It was one of those wondrous plays where every kid that shows up gets a role for the bargain price of a years’ wages. Just kidding. I’m sure it was cheaper than that. It was theater, after all. Times haven’t changed that drastically.)
        What followed were three weeks of acting and vocal exercises and elaborate stretching rituals that culminated in the worst audition I’d given up to that point. Since then, I’ve given much worse auditions, but this one was particularly bad. Despite having rocked the shit out of my audition song (“Maybe”) I proceeded to chicken out when it came time for my Miss Hannigan cold read. I was too insecure and too chicken shit to give a decent holler. I guess I was afraid they’d judge me if I hollered too screechily** or too weakly. So I gave a pathetic little squeak and looked around like an idiot to make sure everyone knew how dumb I thought my screaming was. And I lost the role I was born to play (had in fact been rehearsing for years) and wound up as a goddamn Boylan Sister. (It could've been worse: I think Lizzy wound up playing a member of FDR's cabinet.) It was my fault I had such a shit part, but it taught me a valuable lesson early on: when it comes to auditioning, it’s best to go balls to the wall, come what may. Fail gloriously, right?
Miss Hannigan and Daddy Warbucks negotiate.
        Anyway, about a week ago my friend Chad said he’d trade me his copy of Annie for my copy of The Iron Lady. And it was the best trade I’ve ever made. (Largely because I thought The Iron Lady kind of blew.) I’ve since watched Annie an indecent number of times and often skip through the talking parts so I can listen to the songs on the DVD while I’m cleaning ("It's a Hard Knock Life" is particularly effective and puts me in mind of when I used to reenact it in the course of my half-hour long showers as a child, scrubbing the bathtub with a washcloth and belting my heart out).
        You want to mock me, and I'm prepared for that. So here are some reasons Annie rocks, despite any argument anyone will every make throughout the course of time from now until forever:
1.     It was directed by John Huston. Say what, now? Yes, John Huston of The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and Chinatown. The man who was besties with Humphrey Bogart (of course they probably didn't call it "besties" but something more rugged like "man buddies" or "dude pals"). What? Okay, so we immediately have to respect the movie because the manliest of all manly men directed it. So it’s not a "girly" movie. Okay?
2.     Mike Nichols directed the original stage play. Pow! Take that!
3.     It’s sort of a history lesson, if you want to get technical about The Great Depression. (Which I don’t, because I think that scene with FDR and Eleanor belonged on the cutting room floor.) But I think it's safe to say that Carol Burnett taught us a good deal about Prohibition and the making of bathtub gin. (Actually, I'm confused on that score: didn't they overturn Prohibition once the Depression began so people had some way of dealing with the shit that life had become? I suck at history.)
4.     The music is INCREDIBLE (thank you to Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin). I’ve been singing it pretty much nonstop for two weeks, which is a good sign because I have amazing taste. Think "Little Girls," "I Don't Need Anything But You" and "I Think I'm Gonna Like it Here." Now try not to think about them.
5.     Albert Finney shaved his head bald, sang, and tap danced in this movie. This is a man who has been nominated for 5 Academy Awards and once made love on a semi-regular basis to Audrey Hepburn. Point being: this is a good film, or he wouldn't be in it. Right?
6.     Finally: Tim Curry is in this film. Need I say more? (Answer: No. I needn't.)
And as a final fun thing: I found a little info about Aileen Quinn, who played Annie in Annie 30 years ago. She’s cute as a button.
Aileen Quinn today. I guess she shaved off her red 'fro.
 *Lyrics from "Little Girls" (Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin). I didn't realize Miss Hannigan was making booze in the tub until (perhaps) this year, but I DID know she was drunk. 
**Another word that I've apparently invented and/or misspelled.

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