With so much chatter in the news about cutting Social Security, transforming Medicare into a voucher system, and generally dismantling all that remains of America's social safety nets, there's some irony in opening a feel-good musical where President Franklin D. Roosevelt sings about a "New Deal for Christmas" with the help of a kindly billionaire industrialist who made all of his cash during the war. But whichever way the political winds may blow, America can't seem to get enough of Annie or its scrappy namesake orphan who sings about smiling through her gray, lonely days because she knows the sun has to come out eventually. From great depressions to great recessions, war to shining war, it's not hard to see how the optimistic "Tomorrow" became one of the century's most frequently performed songs.
Annie lyricist Martin Charnin thinks the heavily licensed song changes with context and turns up where and when you least expect it. "Like a bank — being able to get your loan tomorrow." Charnin rarely lets that sort of association happen though. "I want to protect the integrity of the lyrics," he says.
- Joan Marcus
Charnin's been connected to Annie for much of his professional life, having directed numerous revivals, including the one rolling into the Orpheum this week. "People always ask, 'When did you rewrite it?'" he says, describing the award-winning musical's ability to speak to audiences across generations.
"What we've discovered, particularly in this production, is that it's extremely relevant," Charnin says, addressing the show's longevity. "That relevance surfaces in different doses depending on where the country's psyche happens to be."