Broadway's Annies: Where are they now?


Allison Smith with Sandy in the musical "Annie." Smith was the fourth actress to play the part of the lovable orphan during the show's original Broadway run. 

Martha Swope/NYPL, Billy Rose Theatre Division

It's a very exclusive club: actresses who performed the lead role in the musical "Annie" during its original Broadway run. "Sunday Morning" caught up with them at a 40th reunion of the show's debut:  

Prior to the show's opening on Broadway, Kristen Vigard was the first Annie when the show premiered at the Goodspeed Opera House in Haddam, Conn., on Aug. 10, 1976.

Kristen Vigard, who originated the role before the show opened on Broadway. CBS News

She was born on Mat 15, 1962, in St. Paul, Minn, and was one of the first child models signed by Ford Modeling Agency after her family moved to New York City.

She made her stage debut in 1970 when she worked with La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, in Charles Mingus III's "A Cheap Trick," in which she played a carrot. She later appeared in La Mama's "100 Miles From Nowhere," and "The Wedding Band" with Ruby Dee.

Vigard told CBS News that when she was young, she really wanted to become a doctor. "This is something I did for fun when I was a kid," she said.

So she had mixed feelings when, after a few weeks of playing the lead in "Annie" during the show's out-of-town tryouts, she was told she was, in effect, too sweet to play the scrappy little orphan. She said, "I cried a lot," when told she was being dropped from the starring role. "I was just humiliated, but I was kind of excited to go home."

Kristen went on to be the understudy for her replacement, Andrea McArdle, on Broadway.

Later, she played Crissy in a 1977 Broadway revival of "Hair," and in 1979 starred with Liv Ullman in the Richard Rodgers-Martin Charnin musical, "I Remember Mama."

Kristen Vigard. Facebook

Vigard's subsequent TV and movie credits included "Home to Stay" with Henry Fonda, "The Black Stallion," "The Survivors," "The Equalizer," "Amazing Stories," and the soap operas "Guiding Light" and "One Life to Live."

Pursuing a music career, Vigard recorded and toured with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fishbone. She recorded her own eponymous album in 1988, which charted in the Top 30, and released "God, Loves & Angels" in 2006. She was also a founding member of the band New White Trash.

She has continued to appear on stage in Taos, N.M., where she lives with her husband and daughter.

Andrea McArdle and the cast of "Annie." Martha Swope/NYPL, Billy Rose Theatre Division

The original Broadway Annie, Andrea McArdle, was born on November 5, 1963 in Philadelphia. She had spent more than two years on "Search for Tomorrow," made more than 20 TV commercials, and appeared in several TV pilots before she was cast in "Annie" as Pepper. She was then abruptly pulled from the chorus and given the starring role to replace Vigard. 

"We all knew everybody's lines; kids always do. You know they do," McArdle told Nancy Giles. "And so I was told on a Sunday night that I was going to be taking over the role Tuesday."

After performing in the Goodspeed Opera House and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., McArdle opened on Broadway and on April 21, 1977 stole the theater world's heart. At 13 she became the youngest performer to be nominated for a Tony as Best Lead Actress in a Musical (she would lose to co-star Dorothy Loudon), and won the Theatre World and Outer Critics' Circle Awards. She then performed the role in London.

Andrea McArdle. Facebook

In 1978 she played the young Judy Garland in the TV movie "Rainbow."

McArdle's later Broadway credits included Fantine in "Les Misérables," "Starlight Express," "State Fair," and Belle in "Beauty and the Beast." 

She also toured in "Jerry's Girls" with Carol Channing and Leslie Uggams, "Singin' in the Rain," "Meet Me in St. Louis," "The Fantasticks," "Grease," "Cabaret," "They're Playing Our Song," and "Annie Get Your Gun." 

She also played the role of Miss Hannigan in regional productions of "Annie."

Shelley Bruce as Annie. Martha Swope/NYPL, Billy Rose Theatre Division

Shelley Bruce, who made her film debut at age seven as an extra in "The Godfather," appeared in dozens of TV commercials, and was an understudy in a Broadway production of "The Innocents," before originating the role of the orphan Kate while also serving as understudy for McArdle. 

She took over the role of Annie in 1978, and starred in the show until 1979. She later appeared in the horror film, "The Burning."

In 1981, at age 16, she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments at Manhattan's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Shelley Bruce. CBS News

For six weeks, McArdle visited Bruce in the hospital after she performed her nightclub act at the St. Regis Hotel. "She made her own visiting hours," Bruce said. "She would literally come at one o'clock in the morning, and we would take my IV pole, get sesame chicken out of the machine in the cafeteria. We would sit and hang out."

With the cancer in remission, Bruce joined McArdle, Allison Smith and Sarah Jessica Parker to sing at a Kennedy Center tribute to "Annie" in 1982, but left show business afterwards. A soccer mom in New Jersey, Bruce started selling knitted scarves and blankets under the name Amethyst Soteria, with a percentage of proceeds going to pediatric cancer research.

Sarah Jessica Parker. Martha Swope/NYPL, Billy Rose Theatre Division

After Sarah Jessica Parker saw the Broadway show, her stepfather was brutally honest: "He said to me, 'You know, you're not Annie material at all.' He was trying to prepare me that this fantasy should just be this audience experience." But she auditioned anyway, and became the third Broadway Annie.

Born March 25, 1965, in Nelsonville, Ohio, Parker studied dance at the American Ballet School and the Professional Children's School. She appeared on Broadway in "The Innocents," before taking the Annie plunge.

Her TV credits included "3-2-1 Contact," "Square Pegs," and "A Year in the Life."

Parker would win four Golden Globes for her starring role in the HBO series "Sex and the City," a character she recreated in two theatrical films.

Sarah Jessica Parker. Bryan Bedder/Getty

Back on stage in New York, Parker appeared on Broadway in "The Heidi Chronicles," "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," and "Once Upon a Mattress." She also appeared in "To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday," "The Substance of Fire," "Sylvia," "Wonder of the World" and "The Commons of Pensacola."

Her film credits include "Flashdance," "Firstborn," "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," "L.A. Story," "Honeymoon in Vegas," "Hocus Pocus," "Ed Wood," "Miami Rhapsody," and "State and Main."

Recently she returned to HBO in the series "Divorce."

Allison Smith, raised in Bergen County, N.J., was the youngest and the longest-running Broadway Annie. She was 10 years old when she attended an open audition for the show (after having appeared in local productions of "Gypsy" and "The Sound of Music" and in the chorus of "Evita") and won the role. 

Allison Smith. Martha Swope/NYPL, Billy Rose Theatre Division

Over three years beginning in April 1980, she appeared in more than 1,000 performances.

Her later television roles included Jennie Lowell, the daughter of Jane Curtin, in "Kate & Allie"; and Mallory O'Brien, daughter of the White House Chief of Staff, in "The West Wing." 

Other credits included "Homicide: Life on the Street," "Touched by an Angel," "Murder, She Wrote," "Buddy Faro," "The X-Files," "The Closer," "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," and "Family Guy."

She also starred in the 2004 miniseries "Helter Skelter" as Manson Family member Patricia Krenwinkel. Film roles included "Holes," "Switchback" and "Ordinary Miracles."

In Los Angeles she starred in the premiere production of David Mamet's "Oleanna," and in "QED." She also performed with Randy Newman in his musical, "The Education of Randy Newman," at South Coast Rep. She has also sung at Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall and The White House.

Alyson Kirk as Annie. Martha Swope/NYPL, Billy Rose Theatre Division

Born in Jan. 14, 1970 (and hailing from the same New Jersey town where Allison Smith grew up), Alyson Kirk made her professional stage debut in the third national company of "Annie," before joining the Broadway cast as the orphan Kate and understudy for Smith. She then took on the lead role herself. 

She was 12 when the show closed on January 2, 1983, making her the final Annie during the show's original Broadway run.

In 1985 she returned to Broadway in the musical "Take Me Along." Her TV credits include the movie "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" and "The Equalizer."

She later studied nutrition at Syracuse University, and is now a nutritionist and health coach.

The "Annie" reunion. Top row: Kristen Vigard, Allison Smith and Alyson Kirk. Bottom row: Andrea McArdle, Shelley Bruce and Sarah Jessica Parker. CBS News

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  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at and