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Release: Immediate

(NOTE TO EDITORS: For additional information about the "My Ideal Tomorrow" essay contest Grand Prize, contact Hancher's Judy Hurtig at 319-335-1136, or Amy Huff of Old Capitol Mall at 319-338-7858. Judy's e-mail is <>. For more information about the Children's Miracle Network money tree, contact Lisa Baum-Waters of UIHC at 319-356-1868. Her e-mail is <>.The media rep for the 20th-anniversary production of "Annie" is Molly Hayden at TMG in New York, 212-302-2033.)

20th-anniversary 'Annie' comes to Hancher 'direct from Broadway' Dec. 8-13

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The 20th-anniversary production of "Annie," one of the most popular musical comedies in American theater history, will come to the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium "direct from Broadway" for eight holiday-season performances at family-friendly times -- at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, Dec. 8-11; at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12; and at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13. Good seats are still available for all performances.

"Annie" stars TV and film stars Conrad John Schuck as Daddy Warbucks and Sally Struthers as the villainous Miss Hannigan, and introduces nine-year-old Brittny Kissinger as Annie, the plucky orphan whose irrepressible optimism lifts the whole country out of its Depression doldrums.

The weekend performances will also feature the Grand Prize winner of the "My Ideal Tomorrow" essay contest, sponsored by Hancher and Old Capitol Mall, in a walk-on role as one of the orphans.

In recognition of the season -- and the fact that there are always children in need of love and hope -- a money tree in the Hancher lobby will collect donations for the Children's Miracle Network, which supports medical services for children at the UI Hospitals and Clinics.

The 20th-anniversary production, which reunites the original production team whose "Annie" ran for nearly 2,400 performances and swept all the major "Best Musical" awards in 1976-77, was welcomed enthusiastically back to Broadway before it went on tour.

WNBC's Jeffrey Lyons exclaimed, "It's as wonderful as ever! I'm proposing here and now an 'Annie' revival every 20 years," and Martin Godfried's New York Law Journal review called the show "as engaging and enjoyable as ever." Clive Barnes wrote in the New York Post, "It is now 20 years since the musical 'Annie' seemed to light up all our yesterdays with hope. You can't much go wrong with 'Annie.'"

Conrad John Schuck is reprising the Daddy Warbucks role he played for a year and a half during the original Broadway run of "Annie," but he is best known for his extensive television and film work, which has made his face and voice instantly recognizable. He got his break as Painless, the suicidal dentist in Robert Altman's "M*A*S*H," and subsequently appeared prominently in Altman's "Brewster McCloud," "Thieves Like Us" and "McCabe and Mrs. Miller."

His other screen credits include major roles in two "Star Trek" movies beneath Klingon make-up, "Outrageous Fortune," "Blade" and "Just You and Me Kid." TV viewers remember him as Rock Hudson's ever-present sidekick on "McMillan and Wife," and he most recently completed a four-and-a-half-year run as Herman Munster on "The Munsters Today."

A two-time Emmy Award honoree, Sally Struthers won America's heart as Gloria on the long-running, trailblazing sitcom "All in the Family." In addition to many film, stage and television roles, she is also heard as the voice of teenager Charlene on the ABC series "Dinosaurs."

Struthers is almost as well-known as the Children's Ambassador for Save the Children, a worldwide human-service organization.

Turning Harold Gray's "Little Orphan Annie" into a musical comedy was the inspiration of lyricist-director Martin Charnin, who convinced composer Charles Strouse and librettist Thomas Meehan to join in creating it.

The show, which places Annie, Daddy Warbucks and Annie's mutt, Sandy, in New York City in the midst of the Depression, opened on Broadway on April 21, 1977. It went on to win seven Tony Awards.

Meehan described Annie as "a metaphorical figure standing for innate decency, courage and optimism in the face of hard times, pessimism and despair." These qualities are embodied in the show's signature song, "Tomorrow."

Learn more about "Annie" on the World Wide Web at The site includes a study guide designed for parents, teachers and young people.

Telegroup Inc. is the corporate sponsor of "Annie" at Hancher through the University of Iowa Foundation, with media support from the Gazette.

Ticket prices vary. Prices for the Dec. 8-10 performances and the Sunday evening performance are $42, $40 and $37, with a 20-percent discount for UI students and senior citizens, and half-price tickets for children. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. performances on Dec. 11 and 12 are $45, $43 and $40, with a 20-percent discount for UI students, senior citizens and children. Tickets for all ages are $45, $43 and $40 for the matinees on Dec. 12 and 13.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Audio description, for audience members with visual impairment, will be available at the 1 p.m. performance on Sunday, Dec. 13.

For information on UI arts events, visit