Andrea McArdle starred as the titular orphan in the original Broadway production of “Annie”, and was tapped for a role in NBC’s upcoming live version of the hit musical.
Sadly, a family crisis has forced her to step down from NBC’s upcoming “Annie Live!”, reports People.
“I am saddened to announce I will not be participating in ‘Annie Live!’,” McArdle — who was to have played Eleanor Roosevelt in the production — said in a statement.
“My father is currently in the hospital, and I need to put all of my energy into his health and well-being,” she added. “I wish everyone involved with the production great success. Break a leg everyone.”
Bob Greenblatt, executive producer of “Annie Live!”, also issued a statement addressing her departure. “We love Andrea McArdle and our entire company is sending best wishes to her and her father,” said Greenblatt. “Our Annie, Celina Smith, is thrilled to have met her and she’s excited about following in her incredible footsteps.”
“Annie Live!” features newcomer Smith as Annie, in addition to Harry Connick Jr. as Daddy Warbucks, Taraji P. Henson as Miss Hannigan, Titus Burgess as Rooster Hannigan and Nicole Scherzinger as Grace.
McArdle isn’t the first actor forced to leave the production. Jane Krakowski, who had been cast as Lily St. Regis, exited after being diagnosed with a breakthrough case of COVID, despite being double vaccinated, following all protocols and being tested regularly. Megan Hilty (“Smash”) will be taking over the role.
“She’s recovering safely and she wishes ‘Annie’ the best. She’ll be cheering Megan and the cast on from the sidelines,” a source told People.
“I am beyond thrilled to join this all-star cast, crew & creative team!” said Hilty in a statement.
“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 honour and a dream come true. I wish Jane the speediest of recoveries and hope to do her proud!”
“Annie Live!” airs Thursday, Dec. 2.