After 500 girls auditioned, and six callbacks over six months, Visesia Fakatoufifita, 11, and Faith Young, 11, got cast as the iconic orphan. Fakatoufifita, who is of Tongan descent, saw The Little Mermaid at the 5th Avenue Theatre two years ago, starring Diana Huey as Ariel. She turned to her parents and said, "Mom, her skin is brown like mine! That means I can do this, too!"
This production features 40 wigs handmade by the 5th Avenue's hair/wig team. All are made with human hair, with the exception of the Santa wig, which is made of yak hair. The Annie wigs were custom made to fit Faith and Visesia's heads and were specifically styled for their faces and personalities.
The role of Sandy is alternated between two dogs, Macy and Sunny, rescued by William Berloni, the acclaimed animal trainer for Broadway. Visesia and Faith each have their "own" dog that performs with them, because the dogs have special and specific bonds with individual actors.
The industrialist and philanthropist Oliver Warbucks is played by Timothy McCuen Piggee, one of Seattle's most respected actors, recently seen in Angels in America at Intiman and The Legend of Georgia McBride at ACT. Other actors who've played the Warbucks role include Albert Finney and Jamie Foxx.
The part made famous by Carol Burnett in the movie will be played by Cynthia Jones, who debuted at the 5th Avenue as the Queen in Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella.
Billie Wildrick has starred in countless 5th Avenue shows, including Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, and Ragtime. She is making her 5th Avenue directorial debut at the helm of Annie. Rounding out the all-female creative team are choreographer Kelli Foster-Warder (Ragtime) and music director Caryl Fantel (Holiday Inn).
There are about 180 in the show. The crew in the costume shop has worked on or been in a total of 17 Annie productions.
There are 17 musicians in the orchestra for this production, including five in the woodwind section who play a total of 17 instruments between them.
This is the first time the 5th Avenue Theatre has self-produced a production of Annie. A nationally touring Annie relaunched the theater after its historic reopening in 1980.