Annie: A Rough Guide For The M.D.

May 6, 2011

A Rough Guide for the M.D.


Watch the movies (in this order):

Annie (1999) This version is closer to the stage version. (still many differences)

Life After Tomorrow A remarkable and somewhat disturbing documentary about the continuing lives of the original cast members of the Broadway show and national tours.

Annie (1982) This version gives you the iconic pop culture image of Annie

Get the original cast recording with the extras, and read the liner notes.

There are books of Annie Cartoons, and plenty of other information to read about Annie, a christmas C.D.a sequel to the movie, and a sequel to the musical, none of which you really need to be familiar with to music direct the show; unless you’re planning to start a shrine and convert your house into an Annie Museum. (see the dude in Life After Tomorrow) If you want to geek out on Annie without going the whole way, probably this is the best way to go.

I’ll be talking about this aspect during this entire rough guide, but I’ll start here. The version licensed by MTI contains revisions, I’m guessing from the most recent revival of the show. I’ll list all the large-scale changes below, but the reason I’m bringing it up here is that if your director and/or choreographer has done this show many times before, the revisions will put a crimp in their style. Have this conversation early. It is possible to get pretty close to the original version, but in order to do that you’ll need a reference: the original piano vocal score. I was able to find one used. It is confusing to toggle back and forth between them, but the original vocal score also has the advantage of being completely PLAYABLE by an average pianist, something which cannot be said of the new piano-conductor score.


Annie and Orphans:

This is one of those cases where hearing your pool of orphan candidates sing one song can tell you everything you need to know about all the girls. In the new version, Maybe is in A instead of in Bb, which makes the number far easier to sing. Tomorrow, though, is in the same key it was always in, and your Annie must be able to deliver it, high note at the end and all. Funny enough, though, the Orphans actually sing higher in Hard Knock Life, so have all the girls sing Tomorrow, narrow your Annies down from that pool, and choose the girls who got closest to Annie as the rest of your orphans. The courage the girls gain by being in a large group enables them to sing the WE get kicked at a volume and quality they’d never be able to achieve one at a time. Unfortunately, this means you’ll need to hear Tomorrow about a billion times, but you signed up for this job! J

SIDEBAR: If you’re auditioning for Annie, I think Maybe is a better choice than Tomorrow. They’re going to make you sing Tomorrow anyway if you get a callback, and Maybe shows more acting chops. Have them play it from the score. You’ll sound better in A.

Annie needs to look young enough to be 11, needs to be able to sing Maybe and Tomorrow loud and strong, and needs to be a fair enough dancer to hold the stage with Warbucks a couple of times. She also needs a combination of toughness and sweetness that is actually kind of tricky to get across.

Miss Hannigan:

This is one of those great roles, where body type and looks don’t exclude actors from the running. You have to be able to sing, you have to be able to act, and move well enough in Easy Street not to embarrass yourself. Should be a strong personality.

Sophie and Star To Be:

These can go to your fantastic singers who can’t act, or who you couldn’t give a bigger part to.


A soprano with a traditional ingenue look usually. Generally a sweet, maternal figure, but should be able to spar with Hannigan, and should have a little chemistry with Warbucks and with Annie.


Needs to be a strong actor, high baritone or tenor, with the ability to play a powerful and sometimes aggressive personality, but also to convey paternal warmth. Needs a high E flat at least.


This part is really all about the personality. He’s a high tenor, but that can be fudged. More on that later. Usually cast with an extroverted, showbiz personality.


Your typical Floozy with the high stupid voice.

Bert Healy:

Radio personality type, needs to be able to sing Never Fully Dressed.

Boylan Sisters:

They have to be able to sing a poorly written three part harmony. That’s about it.


Needs to be able to do a passable FDR impersonation. Can talk the songs if unable to sing.

The rest of the roles can be filled by average singers and actors.


As with most of theMTIstudy guides, this guide is great. If you’re looking to use the show as a springboard to talk about history, or musical theatre form, this guide is great. The guides are written mostly by the faculty of NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, and they know what they’re talking about.

Some of the things I’m going to mention will sound petty, but in the interest of being thorough, I’m going to mention most of the things I discovered while music directing with the new materials. Take your conductor score out and pencil in the ones you think are important so when the spots come up, you’ll be able to address them quickly.

Firstly, as far as I can tell, none of the tables of contents for any of the music books has the correct numbers. They don’t even list some of the numbers in the show. Don’t bother using them; get some removable tabs and write the titles on them if you need to get there in a hurry.

On page 13, measure 84, the last note should be a c#, not a C double sharp.

On page 61, there’s a subito piano in measure 21 that isn’t in any of the parts.

On page 64, the cue out of 59 is “Will I get it back?” The cue out of 61 is “The floors”

On page 73, the marking 4x above measure 9 does not appear in the parts.

On page 82, in measure 108, that right hand figure is wrong. It should be eighth rest, G# and A together, G natural and A together, and E and A together

On page 86, measure 141 is a mess. The last right hand chord in the measure should have a G flat on top, not a g natural. I prefer the old version of the left hand, which read, quarter note Gb bottom line with Bass f, quarter note 1st space Ab with 4th space Gb, quarter note bottom line G with Bass F, and quarter note bottom line Gb with 3rd space E natural

On page 87, Star to be should be singing N.Y. C. on the notes with the stems going up, Everybody else is supposed to be singing Ooo on the notes with the stems pointing down.

On page 93, Easy Street is marked as a number with the Chorus. The Chorus isn’t in Easy Street.

On page 98, measures 53 and 54 don’t indicate the melodies crossing properly. It should be one line that goes F#, A, G#, G natural, F #, and the other line going A, B, D, E, D.

On page 99, the cue out of the fermata in measure 63 is the 3rd “it ain’t fair”

On page 107, the cue to begin is “Damn Right”

On page 110, there’s an eighth note treble clef top line f led into by an e natural grace note with a staccato on the downbeat of measure 40 in the reed 1 book flute part. You’ll need to cue it.

On page 119, measure 50 is mismarked as a safety. A safety is for when things have gotten behind. But of course in the first measure of a dialogue section, you have no idea whether you’ll be behind or not. The original score said 3X, and when you play it that way, you’ll see what it’s really there for. On the same page, measure 58 should be spelled G#, not Ab, the next measure too, and the last note in the left hand of 59 should be an F# (like the right hand is)

On page 120, the right hand of measure 66 needs a G natural in the lst beat, not a rest.

On page 126, measure 41 should read Moderato in 2, as it did in the original score. It’s impossible to play a jazzy two step majestically.

On page 128, measure 79 should be in 4 in both the score and the parts.

On page 173, measure 40, the reed 1 part is misspelled concert A flat in the 3rd beat in the Eb version, and concert Bb in the F version. Score is correct, part is wrong.

On page 169 and 178, Warbucks’s first note in measure 110 is wrong, it should be an F in the Eb version or a G in the F version.

On page 198, in measure 29, the left hand is enharmonically mis-spelled. That should be an Ab, not a G#. That’s why that measure was a mess when I played it the first week of rehearsals. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.


1. Overture:

Very straightforward overture with few surprises. Woodblock sets the new tempo in measure 56.

2. Maybe

In the old materials for this show, the number used to be in Bb. Thankfully, it’s been moved to A now, and that half step makes a world of difference for the little girls who now have to sustain C#s instead of Ds. In every performance I’ve ever heard, the last note in measure 48 is a C, but in the original and revised versions, it’s written as another E flat. The C is better. In measure 60, there’s an instrumental break that’s kinda loud. I’m pretty sure that’s where some stage action goes. Even though it’s marked dialogue in measure 60., I think it’s meant to begin in measure 68, where the orchestra drops to pianissimo. Tell your band that Annie sings the last time through the vamp at 28.

3. Annie’s Escape

You’ll probably cut this off early. The original score specified 8 times through measure 2. If you’re following my advice and only using Reed 1 and Trumpet 1, have trumpet 1 play the trumpet 2 notes in this one, to fill out the harmony.

4. It’s The Hard Knock Life

The words are actually it’s THE hard knock life. Everybody sings it’s A hard knock life. It’s difficult to get the THE to pop, even when you sing it right, it still sounds like A. More interestingly, the script and score say weGOT kicked, but I’ve never heard any version actually sung that way. Everyone saysGET. It’s more immediate, and I suspect it’s actually a rewrite that happened in rehearsals, and just never made it into the materials. At your first rehearsals, get the girls to pay attention to the notes in measure 89. They’re lower than you might think. The score also says to have 4 rimshots coming out of 15, but I found it better to just really punch the downbeat of 16.

5. Hard Knock Life Reprise

The end of measure 9 is pretty weird writing when you take the repeat, the F chord doesn’t really lead back into the Bb chord properly. Originally the last chord in measure 9 was a C minor chord, which also sounds off. It worked better for me when I leave off the bass downbeat in measure 2 on the repeat. Measures 10-18 could be sung up the octave by the ‘All but Molly’ group. Any 2 measure group can be removed or repeated from 11-18 for the sake of what’s happening on the stage. There was also originally a repeat with a first and second ending from 19-26. You could reconstruct it if you were so inclined.

6. Tomorrow

The original score of this had a 2 measure repeat right up top, fermata last time only. It also was marked Slowly (in 4). The new vocal score is far better spelled in the section beginning with measure 11. IMPORTANT: all the versions of this song say ALWAYS a day away until FDR changes it later. Then it’s ONLY. Make a note of it and teach it that way from the get-go. Tell the pit that Annie sings the last time through the vamp at 50.

7. Hooverville

This number’s pretty straightforward, and like the rest of the show, contains almost no harmony. The delivery should be aggressive and with very clear, crisp diction.

8. Hooverville Raid

Spend a little time getting used to the 3/8 4/8 section at the end. It’s not hard, but it does take a little thinking for a moment.

9. Little Girls

The soprano sax is very important in this number. Try to keep it from dominating the dynamic, though. Very straightforward number. If Hannigan has trouble finding her entrance, tell her to wait for the vamp. Tell the pit that Hannigan sings the last time through the vamps at 30 and 70

10. Little Girls Reprise

Same as above.

11. I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here

Dialogue is supposed to begin around measure 21. The subito piano in measure 21 is so the band gets out of the way of the dialogue. When we got to 62, my pit was usually going much too fast. I told them to check in with me around 58 to establish the correct tempo for the rest of the number.

12. N.Y.C.

The tempo picks up a bit at 27, but it isn’t indicated in the score. If you’re trying to get a cut in this number, you can cut from the end of 45 to the beginning of 85. If you take that cut, have the chorus sing NYC at 89-90 and 97-98. Measures 129-142 are awkward to play and m. 141 is badly spelled. I wrote in my part Db/F Edim, Ebm7 Ab7, GbM7 Ab7 G7 Gb7, then F7 at 142, which seemed to help. Make sure you see the notes above regarding the errors in this number. From 153-156, make sure your star-to-be is hitting the lower notes right in the jumps. The Eb, the D, the C are easy. It’s the lower notes that can be pitchy. The goofy thing from 179-182 has been added in this version, it’s not in the original. Tell your pit that Warbucks sings the last time through the vamp at 11.

13. Easy Street

This number could go a few different ways. The parts can be distributed any way you want really, in any octave, and you can improvise some other parts too, if you like. If your actors are good enough musicians, you can just teach them the basics and let them do what they like with it. But usually Rooster sings the melody high, and Lily is also high, in that ditzy voice, and Miss Hannigan sings the harmony part. But if your Rooster can’t sing the high parts in the chorus, you could give him the harmony or even the melody the octave down. Likewise Hannigan or Lily; it’s very malleable, and because they’re sort of sloppy unsavory characters, it can even sound kinda lousy and still be okay.

13a Intro Warbuck’s Mansion

Easy scene change.

14 Why Should I Change a Thing?

This number is new to the show, not in the original recording or production. It’s a great establishing number for Warbucks, and gives him a chance to do some declamatory singing. It also raises the stakes for the scene to follow. Normally shows don’t need more ballads, but in this case, I think it works well. Start conducting in 4, then move to 2 in measure 3 (even though it isn’t marked that way) If you’re looking for a cut, go from the end of measure 59 to the beginning of 76. Warbucks is also now one of those roles where there are 2 keys for one number with a high note at the end, (Something Was Missing) but only one key for another equally high note. (this number) If you’re looking for a way around that high G flat, change the G flat to a B flat, the f of ‘sed’ to a C, and change the F to a D flat. If you use this rewrite, you need to tell everyone in your pit who is playing a concert B double flat in measure 98 to change it to a concert Bb.

15 You Won’t Be An Orphan For Long

This is a number that gradually accelerates, so pace yourself. But I’ve also found that if you keep it slow for too long, it saps the energy from the song. I think the tempo should pick up around measure 10. Drake has this random ‘done’ in measure 13 which seems really lame to me. Maybe I’m out to lunch, but I don’t get it. It doesn’t sound like an echo, because it only happens once. It sounds like Drake is just a beat behind. In the original score, Cecile and Annette sing the second half of 17 on, adding Grace at measure 21. Everyone else joins in at 25. In the original vocal score, there was a marking Moderato in 2 at measure 26. Grace used to sing the second half of 29 to the first note of 32. There also used to be a caesura (railroad tracks) in the middle of measure 32. Measure 34 used to be marked Bright. I think the men’s parts in 36 and 40 were always there in performance, but they didn’t used to be in the vocal score. Don’t go too slowly at 85. 89-92 repeats once if at all. Your Warbucks may have trouble finding his note at 104 and feeling the ¾ at measure 109.Run it a bunch of times until it’s foolproof. Your Annie may have some trouble remembering which version of Maybe she’s singing at the end. Also note the low A here at the end of 114. It isn’t an E like it was before.

16 N.Y. Entr’acte

Make a note that the Reed 1 book is mismarked with this number as 15. The trumpet lick at the beginning of this Entr’acte is prone to goofs. My trumpet player nailed it every night, but he tells me the trumpet chat rooms are full of people kvetching about this cold opener. There is a cut possible from 60-71. If you don’t have a great low brass section, you might want to use it.

16a Timpani Cue

This number is new, and very funny, especially if you cut it off right where it says to, before Warbucks says “drop page”

17 Fully Dressed

This number is pretty simple, so it’s surprising that there are so many potential problems in it. In order: You need to pick your Ronnie Bonnie and Connie voicings. Bonnie is the highest, Connie is in the middle, and Ronnie is the lowest. If you’re conducting a small group from the piano, tell your players to keep the rhythm going in measures 4+5 while you play the celeste cues as he says their names. The new version has these hahahas in them. Your director may think they’re lame and cut them, in which case your cue out of 6 is “…Bert Healey saying…” In the old version, the Boylan sisters said “Ah” at 32, but “So” is better. The harmony at 50 is needlessly hard. The original vocal score has only unison here, but I think there has always been a harmony part here. Plan a lot of time to work on it. Hopefully you’ll have a Boylan sister who can run the trio backstage without your help. I am including here a rewritten harmony that makes more sense to me. You can do what you like, of course, but I found the middle part really counter-intuitive from 55-57.

18 Dressed (Children)

This one is easier. If you’re playing, note that 18 is in Ab, or you’ll start in the wrong key after your page turn. If you’re looking for a cut, the one I used was from the end of 37 to the beginning of 46, and from the end of 52 to the beginning of 61. The key change is a little awkward, but it’s a good cut, and if your orphans aren’t riveting to watch, it makes the number blessedly terse. I think it’s become customary to drag out the last fermata in measure 69 to allow the girls to get into their kickline positions.

19 Easy Street Reprise

This number was originally marked ‘Swingy’. I have no idea what that means. There should also be a fermata in the second beat of 19.

20 Train Music

Your basic fast scene change. One time in our production the scene change was delayed, so we wound up playing it 20 times or so. We started improvising train things, like Midnight Train to Georgia, and Chattanooga Choo Choo.

21 Cabinet Tomorrow

Does your Annie have perfect pitch? No? Then play a D flat to help the girl out. At 17, play it 3 times, as it says, and bar 19 should work out perfectly for your vamp. The new line for Annie at m. 30 doesn’t really work. Note that it’s still ALWAYS a day away, not ONLY yet.

22. Cabinet End

This was formerly written in 4/4 with a tempo marked ‘in 2’. They’ve fixed that in this edition, and if you pick the right tempo, repeating each section once, and if your actors don’t drag things out, FDR’s entrance comes at just the right time. This is where the words change to ONLY a day away.

23 Train Scene

Your basic piece-of-cake scene change.

24. Something Was Missing.

Great number for Warbucks, in 2 keys. Unless your Warbucks is an honest to goodness Tenor, I recommend the Eb version. The cue to begin should be “…Babe Ruth…”, not “…and there’s something else you should know…” I picked up the tempo at the end quite a bit, so that my Warbucks didn’t have to hold out that note quite so long.

25 I Don’t Need Anything But You

This number is totally rejiggered in the newer version. If your choreographer and director want to do it the old way, it can be done, but be forewarned: it’s a LOT of work to get it back to the way it was, and it’s work YOU’LL be doing. You’ll need the original vocal score and you’ll find that most of the original is there. Here is a list of the measure order from the new materials that approximates the old version: 83-84 repeated. (kind of) 82-136, 17-81, 148-171. That’s CLOSE to what the original was, but not quite. There are a few measures of vamp missing here and there. And because the parts have so much jumping around when you do it that way, you really need to cut and paste the parts, or rewrite them. I rewrote them during breaks in the tech week, which worked pretty well, except that the last ones I rushed and made some errors. Here are some plusses for doing the number the new way, should you be looking for arguments not to do hours of extra work:

1) The old way, it’s a number about Warbucks and Annie realizing they need each other, culminating in a number where everybody says they love Annie. The new way, it’s a number about everybody loving Annie which culminates in Warbucks and Annie realizing they need each other; which is a much stronger idea dramatically.

2) The original version has what I think is one of the most dreadful lines in Musical Theatre:

GRACE: Have they sent the cheese?

DRAKE: Yes, AND ice

Camemberts and Bries

GRACE: Judge Brandeis!

It’s clear what happened. They needed a rhyme for Brandeis, and the only one is a stiltedANDice, which is not the way any normal person would stress that, and then to fill out the phrase, they went with Camemberts and Bries, as though they are talking about different kinds of Camemberts and different kinds of Bries. The audience doesn’t hear that. They hear the word Breeze, which doesn’t make sense, and then they immediately  hear and see Judge Brandeis, who was mentioned in passing twice before and seems odd showing up here. There isn’t time to process what those lines might have meant, and the audience just shrugs and thinks, “guess I missed something” Worse yet, to justify the cheese line, the original script has Grace asking Warbucks excitedly about cheese, which makes her seem looney in a way she isn’t for the rest of the show. The new version cuts all this out and replaces it with a section from the pre-broadway tryouts, a section which can be heard on the latest version of the Soundtrack in a backers audition as performed by the writers.

3) The new number has more harmony and countermelody which is sorely needed in this show.

4) The new version adds a cute measure of drum fill (measure 147) that the original doesn’t have.

Another thing to note: If you’re using the soundtrack to block the number, there’s a section that isn’t in either version of the score. If you’re using the old score, you repeat measures 28-51. If you’re using the new score, you repeat 99-122, and then cut it off at 137. Look over it carefully so that you understand how it works if you try to add that section. It’s actually a little tricky.

26 Party Music

I should think you’ll cut this off after about 3 measures, and if you do it sloppily it really creates a great disjointed effect for the entrance of the ‘Mudges’.

27. Same Effect on Everyone

This number used to modulate to Bb in measure 15, but now it goes to A, the new Maybe key in this version. Why didn’t they change the key of the first section also? I’m guessing it’s because the solo flute would then have a note that isn’t in range for some flautists. Which brings me to that solo. Many doubling flutists will have trouble getting tone down there on the flute. Be careful about throwing it up the octave though, because the volume may drown out the dialogue. Make sure your Annie sings the right words here.

28. A New Deal For Christmas

I don’t think you need to repeat 32-35 really. At measure 51, the rall. feels like it’s leading up to a big tempo change but it isn’t. You’re right back in tempo in 52. Make a note of it, or you’ll have trouble reestablishing the tempo.
29. Bows

A couple of things. The first repeated section is listed 4 times in the score, but not in the parts. Let them know. Tell your group that the words are ONLY a day away. If you’re looking for a repeat, take one from the end of 22 back to the beginning of 3. I honestly think the second start at 32 is overkill. By this time nobody really wants to hear Tomorrow again, they want to go home.

30 Exit Music

Kind of a truncated version of the overture, really. I have no idea why there’s a measure marked 95AND48. Make a note of it to avoid confusion.


You MUST have a drummer, a piano and a bass player for this pit. I prefer the sound of an upright bass, which pushes it slightly more into the historical time period of the show. An electric bass points up the 70s sound, and makes it sound more like the time the show was written in.

If you have more money, add (in this order):

Trumpet 1

Reed 1



The trumpet really adds a lot to the sound of the show, it opens both acts and has a lot of material.

Reed 1 has the flute in the marches, the soprano and alto sax parts that are so important to Little Girls, and a lot of nice touches here and there. It is by far the most important reed book.

The Guitar and the Banjo complete the rhythm section and make the up tempos pop.

And there are a number of exposed Trombone solo lines that are important to the score.

After that, add as you are able (I think in this order) :

Violin 1

Reeds 2 and 3

Keyboard 2

Reeds 4 and 5


Trumpet 2

Trombone 2


It’s not a huge pit to begin with, so paring it down doesn’t kill the sound, provided your pianist can fill in what’s missing.

My pit at a synagogue production was:


Reed 1

Trumpet 1


Upright Bass


The location was acoustically problematic, with a lot of echo, but not in a good way, so we needed to keep small. But the big moments were still impressive, and we didn’t have a lot of sound issues, because we could keep underneath the singers.

Annie’s a great show, draws a huge crowd, and gives lots of people chances to shine. And everybody knows it. But don’t let that lull you into thinking it’s easy. There are some very tricky moments to work out. Good Luck!


  1. Extremely helpful! You’re talkin my language!

    I am putting on Annie, as director and music director, and my daughter is Annie (I was Annie when I was young). So happy I have a trumpet and trombone, percussionist, and reed player, most all in the same family!

    You have saved me hours and hours…


    Alice Griffith
    director, Lifesong Theatre Group
    Nashville, TN

  2. oh dear, page 183, measure 50 of “I Don’t Need Anything”–horrid horrid. Go ahead and put the D natural on the down beat, then R.H. is Am,D7, D7, make it match…

  3. […] rough guides that are currently available are for Annie, The Music Man, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Seussical, and […]

  4. if you had an eight piece would you reccoment what to get

  5. I am having an 11 piece:

    Reed 1
    Reed 2
    Reed 3
    Keyboard 1
    Keyboard 2

  6. This is such a great resource. Thank you for taking the time to do this.

  7. I am working with a low low budget production and the producer suggested using a track. Is there one out there just to see what it sounds like?

    • Not sure. I don’t really have any experience with tracks. I am a big proponent of using live musicians, even if it means your pit is a single pianist and no one else. I imagine if you must use a track, there will be a serviceable version out there, since it’s such a popular show. Good luck!

  8. I love the cheese. It’s going back in to my current production 🙂

  9. Peter, I’m so thankful for your guides! When I unexpectedly found myself in charge of Seussical two years ago–with no notice–your guide saved my bacon. We are getting ready to launch Annie and are trying to discern the best recording to listen to/use for choreography while we wait for our MTI materials to arrive. Would you say that the 2012 Broadway cast recording or the 1970’s cast is closer to the current MTI materials, in your experience? Thanks!

    • Hey Amy!

      It’s been a while since I’ve done Annie, and I don’t know the 2012 cast recording well at all, but the last time I did it, I think the original cast recording was pretty close, with the exception of a few things in Act II. There are SO MANY Annies out there, I can’t imagine wading through them all again. Break a Leg, and enjoy the ride!

      • Thanks so much! I’m thankful for the input.

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