NBC’s upcoming holiday production Annie Live! has found its lead star as Celina Smith has landed the title role of Annie.
The 12-year-old prodigy from Atlanta was selected for the role following a nationwide search that brought forth the most talented and exuberant young performers across the United States. She will star alongside the previously announced Taraji P. Henson as Miss Hannigan, Harry Connick Jr. as Daddy Warbucks, Nicole Scherzinger as Grace, and Tituss Burgess as Rooster.
Smith began her career as Young Nala in the national touring company of The Lion King and is currently starring on the Nickelodeon channel in Tyler Perry’s Young Dylan. She will now have the chance to perform some of the most popular musical numbers of all time, including “Maybe,” “Tomorrow,” and “It’s a Hard Knock Life.”
Appearing on NBC’s TODAY on Tuesday, Smith talked about the moment she found out she got the part. “We were in my mom’s room and my team called and they were like, ‘What are you going to be doing this October?’” she explained. “I was like, ‘I don’t know.’ And then they were like, ‘You’re going to be in New York doing Annie Live! this October.’ And I screamed!”
“It’s just so amazing to be able to perform with such an iconic cast, and I’m so excited for this journey to start,” she continued. “Just being a part of this production is an amazing opportunity and I’m so excited to be here in New York.”
Robert Greenblatt, Neil Meron, and Alex Rudzinsky will executive producer the upcoming production, with Lear deBessonet and Alex Rudzinski sharing the directing duties. Sergio Trujillo will lead the choreography, with Jason Sherwood overseeing production design and Emilio Sosa handling costume design. Stephen Oremus will orchestrate the music direction.
Annie Live!, Thursday, December 2, 8/7c, NBC