Sunday, June 13, 2010

The musical Annie and the shattered lives in its wake

There've been a few documentaries about Annie. Even the ones that are pro-Annie reveal the dark underbelly of this grotesque musical.

Annie has left a trail of shattered lives, lost childhoods and broken homes.

First of all, they fire children right and left. One girl had the lead in Annie, she got bronchitis. She wanted to keep performing anyway, but the doctor told her mother he would call Child Protective Services if she did. It turns out the girl was right to be worried. She stayed home from work. Became suspicious when she learned that her understudy wasn't the one taking her place. And a fax arrived in the middle of the night. (This may have been before email was in general use.) The rotten bastards fired her by fax.

They would bring the girls out every week and weigh them and measure them. If they grew or gained weight, they were fired.

There were the broken families. One parent had to go on tour with the roadshow production of the play. This meant that parents were separated for long periods. There were several cases where this ended in divorce.

In one case, a mother was sleeping around while on the road. Another mother had to help her secure an abortion.

In another case, a girl from a single-parent home was in the production. Her mother traveled with her, meaning her brother had to be left with his aunt. The brother was essentially turned into an orphan so that his sister could play an orphan on stage.

There was a girl fired from the production. Her mother told her the news. She was fired for having grown a couple of inches. The girl threw an 8 x 10 glossy of herself on the floor, began stomping on it yelling, "I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!" at her own picture.

You watch video of the children working hard, rehearsing over and over as they sing about being forced to work.

But, of course, it's those of us who can't stand crap like Annie who are denounced for being cold-hearted and cynical.

The most hideously exploited child star in the movies or television is at least treated as a recognizable individual. With this disgusting musical, they just bring out another girl, put the wig on her, and the rubes in the audience don't know the difference.

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