Originally created 09/17/99

'Annie' character has fun being mean



The kid with the curly red hair and scruffy mutt is back.

A national touring production of Annie will be staged at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Bell Auditorium.

The tour is a first for Victoria Oscar, who plays Miss Hannigan, the mean mistress of the New York Municipal Orphanage, where Annie lives.

"Miss Hannigan is a mess. She's very complex," said Miss Oscar from her hotel room in Tallahassee, Fla., a tour stop.

"It's been delightful discovering the character. At one point she probably enjoyed her job. Now she's a bitter, unhappy alcoholic."

Miss Oscar said she's wanted to play the darkly comic role since she was 12.

Based in New York, Miss Oscar has performed in dinner theater and done stand-up comedy. The 10-month tour will take her across America and into Canada.

"It's definitely exciting. You need to be a little adaptable because every venue is different," she said.

More than 20 years after its opening on Broadway, the musical about the rags-to-riches orphan still captures audiences with its memorable songs and characters.

Tunes such as You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile, Tomorrow and It's the Hard-Knock Life have become musical standards -- especially for showcasing children's voices.

Based on the comic strip Little Orphan Annie, the musical languished for four years before finding a producer. It eventually spawned four road companies and a movie version, released in 1982.

The charm of the musical lies in its heartwarming story, said Miss Oscar.

"It's basically about the underdog. It's an important staple in life -- that the underdog wins and survives," she said.

The music from Annie has definitely survived. On the recent MTV Music Video Awards, rapper Jay-Z performed his hit song Can I Get A ..., which uses the refrain from It's the Hard-Knock Life.

Just like an orphan -- you never know where she'll turn up.

On stage

What:

Annie, the musical

Where:

Bell Auditorium, 712 Telfair St.

When:

8 p.m. Tuesday

Tickets:

$34.50, $31.50, $26.50; $10 off for children 12 and younger; Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center box office, TicketMaster outlets or call 828-7700; special discounts for groups of 20 or more

REACH Margaret Weston at (706) 823-3340 or mweston@augustachronicle.com.