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NBC’s ‘Annie Live!’ Casts Annie

Celina Smith has landed the role after a nationwide search

NBC’s “Annie Live” has found its Annie in Hollywood newcomer Celina Smith, who landed the hard-knock role in the upcoming holiday production after a nationwide search, the broadcast network revealed Tuesday.

Per NBC, “Already a triple threat at the age of 12, Smith will light up center stage with an all-star ensemble that includes Taraji P. Henson as Miss Hannigan, Harry Connick Jr. as Daddy Warbucks, Nicole Scherzinger as Grace and Tituss Burgess as Rooster.” 

The Atlanta-based Smith will play little orphan Annie herself, singing the Broadway classic’s most memorable songs, including “Maybe,” “Tomorrow” and “It’s a Hard Knock Life.”

The broadcast network’s live production of the beloved Tony-winning musical, which is inspired by the classic comic strip that first appeared in 1924, will air Thursday, Dec. 2.

“Annie Live!” will be NBC’s first live musical broadcast since 2019’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert,” starring Brandon Victor Dixon, John Legend, and Sara Bareilles. The network’s past productions include “The Sound of Music,” “Peter Pan,” “The Wiz” and “Hairspray.”

“Annie Live!” will be executive produced by Robert Greenblatt, Neil Meron and Alex Rudzinsky, with Lear deBessonet and Alex Rudzinski sharing the directing duties. Choreography will be led by Sergio Trujillo. Jason Sherwood will oversee production design. Stephen Oremus will orchestrate the music direction. Emilio Sosa will lead costume design. The live event is being produced by Chloe Productions. 

Smith has previously played Young Nala in the national touring company of “The Lion King” and also appeared on the TV series “Tyler Perry’s Young Dylan.”

She is represented by Pantheon, J Pervis Talent Agency, AGI Entertainment and attorney Mark Temple.

“It’s an honor to follow in the footsteps of the talented young ladies who have played Annie before me and I can’t wait to start this journey,” Smith said in a statement accompanying the casting announcement on Tuesday.

“Annie Live!” will air Thursday, Dec. 2 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.