(CNN)After past year's "Dr. Seuss' The Grinch Musical" -- a dual menace arsenic some a captious catastrophe and a ratings flop -- NBC returned to much fertile territory with its latest vacation presentation, "Annie Live!" Incorporating a unrecorded audience, the amusement much intimately approximated the vigor of a theatrical experience, with its main flaw stemming from trying excessively hard to please.
Having a assemblage really ticker the amusement helped flooded 1 of the raps connected this format implicit the past decade, mounting immoderate memorable shows but struggling to seizure the unsocial qualities of an in-person setting.
On the downside, the assemblage (one suspects with a grade of coaching) sounded a spot excessively appreciative and enthusiastic, applauding during numbers and carrying connected arsenic if this "Annie" was frankly a amended amusement than it is oregon was.
It's besides worthy noting the archetypal precedence remains presenting these musicals arsenic a TV show, allowing cameras to swoop successful and astir the performers to supply an up-close view. By that measure, adjacent the champion spot successful the location was occasionally obstructed truthful the folks astatine location could beryllium treated to closeups of the stars.
Quibbles aside, the amusement boasted sizeable talent, with young Celina Smith ably filling the rubric relation aft a somewhat shaky start, flanked by Harry Connick Jr. arsenic Daddy Warbucks, the billionaire who takes successful the determined orphan prone to singing "Tomorrow," the show's signature and 1 truly memorable number, astir each 15 minutes.
Taraji P. Henson besides gamely dove into the juicy relation of Miss Hannigan, the cruel orphanage mistress, with Tituss Burgess and Megan Hilty providing an other boost of theatrical flair arsenic her grifter member and his girlfriend, who effort to derail Annie's adoption.
The Depression-era taxable did relationship for 1 deservedly crowd-pleasing moment, during which Warbucks talks astir taking Annie to spot a musical, adding, "I'm gladsome to spot Broadway getting backmost connected its feet successful spite of the hard times." After a twelvemonth of closed New York theaters, the applause felt much spontaneous than thing other wrong the telecast.
Beyond that, "Annie" benefited from its sheer unpretentiousness, offering the can't-miss (or astatine slightest miss entirely) operation of cute kids, buoyant creation numbers, a small miss with a large voice, that trademark reddish dress, and of people a precise well-trained canine who shows up conscionable agelong capable to marque everyone swoon.
Sure, the communicative mightiness beryllium acceptable successful the Depression, but "Annie Live!," warts and all, delivered a small ray of sunshine heading into the holidays -- thing forgotten by tomorrow, perhaps, but bully capable for tonight.