The upcoming televised musical Annie Live! has found its Sir Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks, casting singer Harry Connick Jr. in the role of the wealthy businessman who has Annie come to stay at his house for the Christmas season and eventually adopts her. Connick Jr. joins previously announced cast member Taraji P. Henson, who will be playing the villainous Miss Hannigan.
"I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to play Daddy Warbucks in Annie Live! and working alongside Taraji P. Henson is a dream come true," Connick Jr. in a statement, via Entertainment Tonight. "I love this show, and its musical message of love and hope couldn't come at a better time." Executive producer Robert Greenblatt added, "We are thrilled to have Harry Connick Jr. playing Daddy Warbucks. He's a true entertainer who sings — and dances — with the best of them, and he will bring a completely fresh approach to this character. And he will give Taraji P. Henson's Miss Hannigan a run for her money for Annie!"
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The musical Annie, which is based on the Harold Gray comic strip "Little Orphan Annie" from the early 1920s, premiered on Broadway in 1977 and has been licensed and performed in 50 countries and translated into eight languages. Rehearsals for NBC's Annie Live will take place in October and November in New York, and the musical will air on Thursday, Dec. 2 on NBC. A nationwide search is currently underway to cast the role of Annie with auditions to be held virtually.
"It's such a classic show and it's a show that I'm so familiar with, just from seeing it a million times," Connick Jr. told PEOPLE. "And it's one of those things where you watch it and enjoy it and never really imagine yourself a part of it, so when I was asked to play Daddy Warbucks it was kind of surreal because that's such an iconic role."
"It wasn't something I ever really thought about," he added. "I was just thrilled that I was asked to do it." Annie Live! will be NBC's sixth live musical since it began the practice in earnest with 2013's The Sound of Music Live!, and Connick Jr. shared that he's excited to step into the medium of live television. "I love the idea of live television - the more difficult the tightrope walk is for me the more excited I get, so I'm just really fired up about it," he said. "It's this intersection of live theater and film and television, so I think there's an opportunity to do things that can exist in any of those mediums."