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Katie Finneran, as Miss Hannigan, Has No Problem Being Mean

Finneran may not “look funny,” but she’s already proving she can be evil

By Robert Kahn
|  Tuesday, Aug 21, 2012  |  Updated 10:27 AM EDT
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Katie Finneran Has No Problem Being Mean

Boneau/Bryan-Brown

Katie Finneran will be dripping with little girls come October and the new "Annie" revival

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Here are three actresses whose names typically aren’t floated for the same roles: Rosie O’Donnell, Elaine Stritch and... Katie Finneran, the Florida native who once studied under drama coach Uta Hagen. 

Still, at some point, each was discussed as a potential Miss Hannigan, the nasty, drunken orphanage matron dripping with little girls in the favorite musical “Annie,” returning to Broadway in previews on Oct. 3 at the Palace Theatre.

 

In a new interview in New York magazine, “Annie” director James Lapine says Finneran was chosen as the next in a long line of Miss Hannigans (we’re partial to Carol Burnett, in the 1982 movie) because she saw the character as “a washed-up flapper with sex appeal, rather than a hopeless battle-ax.”

 

“She’s not by nature a comedic-looking kind of actress, but her comic timing is pretty amazing,” Lapine said.

 

Finneran may not “look funny,” but she’s already proving she can be evil. Consider: Broadway’s original Miss Hannigan, Dorothy Loudon, was nominated for a 1977 Tony in the same category as co-star Andrea McArdle, the spirited orphan. Loudon won. 

 

Finneran, who has two Tonys of her own (for “Noises Off” in 2002 and “Promises, Promises” in 2010) told New York mag’s Boris Kachka she’d have no problem snagging a statue away from Lilla Crawford, 11, Broadway’s newest red-headed orphan, should history repeat itself.

 

“That little girl’s going down,” Finneran said.

  

Finneran’s 2010 Tony acceptance speech for featured actress in a musical is a classic, in which she first thanks Kristin Chenoweth for “loaning her eyelashes” that night, and then goes on to address all the little girls (and boys) watching from home.

 

“With the world being so fast right now, I want to remind you to focus on what you love, because it is the greatest passport, it is the greatest roadmap to an extraordinarily blissful life ...” The full speech is below.

 

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