Charles Strouse: Annie Overture
Originally based on Harold Gray’s comic strip, Little Orphan Annie, the broadway musical Annie is one of the most popular of the 20th century. With music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin, some of the most popular songs include Tomorrow, It’s the Hard Knock Life and You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile. The first Broadway show opened in 1977, and different productions have popped up since across the world.
As is the tradition with many musicals, there is often an Overture that starts the show. The premise behind this, similarly found in opera, is to give the audience a taste of the music to come, as the Overture goes through some of the most famous tunes of the show. The Overture to Annie is no different, with Strouse picking some of the most recognisable themes from the show. The overture opens with a solo trumpet that plays the famous theme to Tomorrow. As this turns into a brass feature, Strouse quickly moves onto It’s the Hard Knock Life theme.
Now the whole orchestra is playing, Strouse can focus on choosing which themes to showcase, and how to make them stand out from the show version. Upbeat versions of You’re Never Fully Dressed and Easy Street begin to intertwine as the themes become more aligned. Tomorrow does lay the foundation of the overture, with a quick segue back into a fully-orchestrated play as it shines through. Strouse utilises the whole orchestra throughout to give different effects to well-known tunes. The overture ends after a final play through of the Tomorrow theme, which sees the orchestra unite before the show begins.
Ⓒ Alex Burns
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