Why Did Andrea McArdle Leave NBC's 'Annie Live!'?
Andrea McArdle, who was cast to be part of NBC's upcoming "Annie Live!", announced her departure from the live musical set.
One week before the arrival of "Annie Live!" McArdle issued a statement to announce her exit from the special. She explained that her abrupt, unexpected withdrawal from the program was due to a heartbreaking family matter.
"I am saddened to announce I will not be participating in "ANNIE LIVE!" My father is currently in the hospital, and I need to put all of my energy into his health and well-being. I wish everyone involved with the production great success. Break a leg everyone," said McArdle.
Meanwhile, the "Annie Live!" executive producer Bob Greenblatt also released a separate statement to address her departure.
In the account obtained by People, he sent the whole company's best wishes to McArdle and her father. He also introduced the new Annie, Celina Smith, who will star in the special instead.
"Annie Live!" Loses More
Aside from McArdle, Jane Krakowski also left the project as she was forced to give up her role as Lily St. Regis. The 53-year-old actress, unfortunately, contracted COVID-19 despite being double vaccinated and going through regular testing.
Broadway alum, Megan Hilty, stepped up to fill her position.
"I am beyond thrilled to join this all-star cast, crew & creative team! My family and I have been super fans of Annie for as long as I can remember and we always look forward to the epic televised musicals produced by Bob Greenblatt & Neil Meron, so to be a part of this particular production is an honor and a dream come true," Hilty said, before sending a get well soon message to Krakowski.
"Annie Live!" will air on NBC starting December 2, 2021. Harry Connick, Taraji P. Henson, Nicole Scherzinger, and Tituss Burgess join the ensemble members of cast.
NBC first announced the project on May 12, 2021, and hailing Alex Rudzinski and Lear deBessonet as the television director and program director, respectively.
Henson was the first one to be cast in the production, with the other cast members joining the group afterward.
Before finding Annie, NBC famously held a nationwide audition, with Celina Smith winning the producers' hearts.