There's nothing like New York City at Christmastime. The nip in the air. The famed Rockefeller Center tree. And Ron Raines (Alan, GUIDING LIGHT; Carl, ONE LIFE TO LIVE) starring as Daddy Warbucks in the final few weeks of Annie on Broadway! "I love this show, I love the role, and what greater time to do it than the holidays? It's all about the holidays!"
Last week, Raines too over the part of the billionaire who adopts the curly-haired redheaded orphan from Australian actor Anthony Warlow, whose contract with the musical had ended. "I was close in the running for being cast as Daddy Warbucks, and I think that's why they called me," muses Raines, whose run will end along with the revival's final performance on Sunday, January 5. "I'm thrilled to be doing it, even though it's just for one month."
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And who Daddy Warbucks is is quite a familiar character for the Raines, who was nominated for three Daytime Emmy Awards for his portrayal of GL entrepreneur Alan Spalding. "Another rich guy full of bluster, with a heart!" Raines laughs. "I seem to play a lot of those guys!"
Why It Was Like Jumping On A Moving Train
Even though Raines had already played Daddy Warbucks in the past -- and really, who doesn't know who the old coot is? -- picking up where Warlow left off wasn't exactly an easy task. "You don't get to see the cast until the afternoon that they push you onstage," he says of taking over a role in a current production. "I rehearsed by myself with the stage manager, and they eventually have understudies come in. So it's a little bit of an out-of-body experience the first night or two. Because all of a sudden, there's sets and an orchestra and lights and people running around in costumes you've never seen.
Raines (who was nominated for a Tony Award last year for his role in Follies) has walked down that path before as a replacement in Chicago, Newsies and Showboat, but that doesn't mean he's comfortable in doing so! "It's like jumping on a train when it's already in motion. You know when the guy's on the horse and they jump in the train? They're up to speed and you're not. But that's part of live theater," he shrugs. "It seems to be something I can do, but I certainly don't enjoy it!"
The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow
The message behind Annie, which is set in New York City during The Great Depression, is as uplifting as its most popular song, "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow." Explains Raines, "It's one of those stories that is filled with hope. The sun will come out, tomorrow's a different day and let's just keep plugging along." Plus, who can argue with an adorable moppet who manages to work over the staunchest of men like putty in her hand? "The childlike purity, touching this grumpy old man and softening him. It's a timeless story."
Annie is playing at the Palace Theatre until Sunday, January 5. For tickets, visit www.anniethemusical.com.