Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Music Review: Annie - 1999 Television Film Soundtrack

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great cast gives great version of these songs
Cons: Not all the songs from the play
The Bottom Line
A fan of Annie?
Liking this soundtrack will be
Easy Street for you.

The Sun Always Comes Out Today with This Soundtrack

I realize what I am about to say will not be cool with many adults, but I love Annie.  Okay, not the original movie version, but the Broadway play and the 1999 movie.  And that's one reason why I love the soundtrack to that made for TV movie.

This version of the story stuck a little closer to the Broadway play.  It went back to the songs from the musical that were cut out or replaced in the original movie.  However, they left some other songs from the play out.  Specifically, they went with the choice to deemphasize some of the songs and scenes related to the 1930's setting, so some of the lesser remembered songs that dealt with that are missing.

The good news is, all the classics are here and as good as you remembered.  Frankly, it's hard to believe how many great songs there really are in this musical.

The newcomer to this soundtrack is Alicia Morton as Annie.  I'm not quite sure what her background is, but she is wonderful here.  Her voice is perfect for her many solos.  Just listen to her belt out that final note on "Tomorrow," and you'll be impressed.

There are lots of familiar names in the rest of the cast.  Broadway vets Audra McDonald (Grace Farrell) and Kristin Chenoweth (Lily St. Regis) are here, and not surprisingly, they do a wonderful job.  The multi-talented Victor Garber is a wonderful Daddy Warbucks.  Alan Cumming is the villainous Rooster Hannigan.  And look for the original Broadway Annie, Andrea McArdle, in a cameo as the Broadway Star-to-be in the song "NYC."  But the biggest surprise to me was Kathy Bates as Miss Hannigan.  I knew she was a great actress, and she didn't surprise me in the role; I just didn't know she could sing.  But she belts out her numbers with ease and holds her own with the rest of the talented cast.  No, there isn't a bad performance in the bunch.

What can be said about the songs?  As I mentioned, all the classics are here.  You've got "Maybe," which Annie sings as she wishes for her parents to come back and claim her from the orphanage.  There's the well known "Tomorrow," which she uses to cheer herself up.  Personally, I'm a huge fan of "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile."  Plus I love the duet "I Don't Need Anything but You" that Warbucks and Annie sing near the end.  And the villains have some great numbers too, like "Little Girls," which Kathy Bates sings with relish, and the show stopping "Easy Street."

All the songs are backed by a full orchestra, so you get the feeling that you are sitting in a live performance.  With the upbeat "NYC" and "Easy Street" to the slower "Something was Missing," there is plenty of variety in tempo to keep you listening.

The CD runs about forty-two and a half minutes, which is almost half the length of the movie.  (It clocked in at an hour and a half without commercials.)  It's easy to see why some of the songs were cut here since they had to fit the movie in the TV time allowed.  What might surprise and annoy you are all the reprises that are included.  However, I just got back from seeing the play version again, and all of them are in the play, so it's actually nice to have them included.  Basically, any time they sang in the movie, it's on this disc.

Really, the only change they made to the traditional score was combining the reprises of "Maybe" and "Tomorrow" and giving them to Audra McDonald's Grace Farrell.  What's interesting is that in the play, Annie actually sings this reprise of "Maybe" to cheer herself up.  But in the movie, Grace sings the medley to cheer up Annie near the end when she thinks she is going to have to leave Warbucks.  It's a great moment and really allows Audra to shine.

Really, if you are looking for a soundtrack to Annie, I would recommend this one.  No, it's not complete, but it has all the best songs with some great singers.

CD Length: 42:33
1. Overture
2. Maybe
3. The Hard-Knock Life
4. The Hard-Knock Life (Reprise)
5. Tomorrow
6. Little Girls
7. I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here
8. NYC
9. NYC Reprise/Lullaby
10. Easy Street
11. You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile (Radio Version)
12. You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile (Cast Version)
13. Something was Missing
14. I Don't Need Anything but You
15. Maybe/Tomorrow (Reprise)
16. Little Girls (Reprise)
17. Finale/I Don't Need Anything but You

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