Annie Live: The Best Moments From The Musical

Harry Connick Jr., Nicole Scherzinger, and Celina Smith in Annie Live
(Image credit: NBC)

Annie Live! premiered on NBC and it was a spectacular kick-off to the holiday TV special season. It starred Celina Smith, Taraji P. Henson, Harry Connick Jr., and Nicole Scherzinger. Annie Live! had plenty of great performances, laugh-out-loud moments, and that warm hopeful spirit that made the original production such a success. Annie Live! gave us moments that reminded us of the magic of Broadway, whether watching live in the theater or on the big or the small screen.

If you managed to miss the original broadcast of Annie Live or want to relive some of the highlights, here are some of the best moments from Annie Live. 

Spoilers ahead for Annie Live!. Proceed with caution. If you haven't seen it yet, it's available streaming on Peacock. (opens in new tab) 

Taraji P. Henson and Titus Burgess in Annie Live!

(Image credit: NBC)

The Performance Of “Easy Street”

The “Easy Street” performance happened about halfway through Annie Live. It acted as Rooster Hannigan (Tituss Burgess) and Lily St. Regis' (Megan Hilty) introduction to the musical. Rooster, Lily, and Miss Hannigan (Taraji P. Henson) perform it together to express their desire for an easy life. “Easy Street” is such a fun song to watch performed because the choreography is smooth and silly, the lyrics are catchy, and it’s the villain anthem we didn’t know we needed. “Easy Street” is also the song most likely to be stuck in your head all day.

Megan Hilty and Tituss Burgess in Annie Live!

(Image credit: NBC)

Tituss Burgess And Megan Hilty As Rooster Hannigan And Lily St. Regis

The entire Annie Live cast is great, but Tituss Burgess and Megan Hilty were the most valuable performers of the night. Probably because Hilty and Burgess have so much theater experience, they had such ease on the stage. Any part they were in, they stole the scene. They played their characters very well: they were charming, funny, sang and danced great, and I could go on until eternity praising them. Watching Annie Live really made me wish their roles were bigger or that they at least had a few more scenes in the production. 

Jane Krakowski was originally cast to play Lily but had to drop out due to testing positive for COVID-19. I’m sure Krakowski would have given an excellent performance as Lily St. Regis as well, but Hilty stepped up and nailed the role. 

Nicole Scherzinger in Annie Live!

(Image credit: NBC)

The Dance Sequence From “We Got Annie”

Lyrically, there isn’t much to “We Got Annie,” but the Annie Live! choreography for it was superb. Nicole Scherzinger and the Warbucks’ staff have to not only get the timing perfect, they have to move props, do lifts, and constantly dance for about a minute or two nonstop. “We Got Annie” has so many intricate dance moves but flows effortlessly. Scherzinger looked visibly tired after that performance, but she and all the dancers deserve every award for pulling that off, especially Scherzinger who also had to sing during it. It’s hard not to marvel at her as a singer and performer after Annie Live. 

Alan Toy, Celina Smith, and Harry Connick Jr. in Annie Live!

(Image credit: NBC)

The “Tomorrow (Cabinet Reprise)” Performance

Annie (Celina Smith) sings “Tomorrow” twice during Annie Live, and when she sings it to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Alan Toy), it has the biggest impact. “Tomorrow” is a song all about hope, and Annie singing it at a time when the country needs it most really helps drive home the importance of “Tomorrow” and believing that things will be better the next day or the day after that. 

Harry Connick Jr. and Celina Smith in Annie Live!

(Image credit: NBC)

Daddy Warbucks On The Piano

Annie’s shock when Daddy Warbucks begins to play the piano is such a clever and cute inside joke to the audience that you can’t help but giggle. The audience is then reminded of Harry Connick Jr.’s rich and soft voice when he plays the piano while singing “Something Was Missing.” The song is Warbucks’ love letter to Annie. It highlights how they have both found love and family through each other. 

Harry Connick Jr and Taraji P. Henson in Annie Live!

(Image credit: NBC)

The “Sign” Performance

“Sign” really highlights the insanity of Miss Hannigan. This scene gives us the unlikely pairing of Miss Hannigan and Warbucks. It acts as a showcase of their differences: Warbucks is just at the orphanage for business and Hannigan wants to seduce him. He then turns it around by pointing out her crimes and nefarious behavior. It’s also a major moment in Annie Live! because it's when the audience learns that Warbucks plans to adopt Annie. 

Harry Connick Jr., Nicole Scherzinger, and Celina Smith in Annie Live!

(Image credit: NBC)

Daddy Warbucks Mentioning Broadway’s Return Before Singing “N.Y.C.”

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the world in various ways, including deaths, long-term side-effects, and major financial losses. Broadway is one of those industries slowly beginning to return to normal.  Before singing “N.Y.C,” Annie’s tribute to the wonders of New York City, including Broadway shows, Warbucks mentions being happy to see Broadway “get back on its feet after the hard times.” This statement got one of the biggest audience reactions of the night. It reminded the viewers that live theater is back and hopefully better than ever. 

Celina Smith in Annie Live!

(Image credit: NBC)

The “Hard Knock Life” Performance

“Hard Knock Life” isn’t the song that opens Annie but it’s the one that feels like the official kick-off of the musical. It’s the most well-known song from Annie, besides “Tomorrow,” and it’s high energy. It establishes the mood of Annie Live. The “Hard Knock Life” dance sequences and comedic elements made this performance even more sweet and charismatic to watch. 

Taraji P. Henson in Annie Live!

(Image credit: NBC)

Miss Hannigan Singing “Little Girls.”

Taraji P. Henson’s interpretation of Miss Hannigan is sure to divide opinions. I personally liked her over-the-top caricature of Miss Hannigan. It made the character silly and ridiculous, which is sometimes needed in a production geared toward small children as well as adults. The performance of “Little Girls” really allowed Miss Hannigan to shine, especially with her dramatic, outlandish behavior and quirks. 

Celina Smith in Annie Live!

(Image credit: NBC)

Celina Smith Putting On The Annie Dress

Celina Smith’s performance as Annie got better and better as Annie Live! continued. When she was finally shown in Annie’s iconic red dress, it felt like her transformation into the character became complete. Smith gave viewers everything they could want in an Annie: spunk, heart, charm, and sincerity.  The red dress moment felt like a good welcoming of Celina Smith into the Broadway world. We can’t wait to see what she does next.

Annie Live! gave us plenty of endearing moments and reminders of why hope is the strongest weapon against any obstacle that life presents. Annie Live may grace the 2021 fall TV schedule again if NBC decides to show a repeat of the performance, but for now, you can enjoy Annie Live! on Peacock .Stream Annie Live on Peacock.  (opens in new tab)

Jerrica Tisdale
Freelance Writer

Spent most of my life in various parts of Illinois, including attending college in Evanston. I have been a life long lover of pop culture, especially television, turned that passion into writing about all things entertainment related. When I'm not writing about pop culture, I can be found channeling Gordon Ramsay by kicking people out the kitchen.