Lincoln native starts with “stern” but finds happiness in “Annie”
There has been little time to rest this year for Lincoln native and actor Harrison Drake.
In June, Drake was in Omaha for the nationwide Broadway touring production of “Anastasia.” This week, he returns to the Orpheum Theater this week with the national Broadway tour of the beloved musical “Annie.”
Drake said he knew in May that he would return to Omaha later in the year. He had a week in August between shows where he could return to Lincoln to visit family and pack up for a new road tour that will continue through July 2023.
The 29-year-old holds a degree in advertising and public relations from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, but has spent much of his career as an actor, traveling for tours on Broadway and in shows of cruise ships. Drake said he enjoyed working on “Anastasia” and was “very proud” of the cast’s work on “Annie.”
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Drake called his life “busy but good”.
“‘Annie’ is definitely a household name and it’s really great to be part of something so widely recognised,” he said. “When I tell someone I’m in ‘Annie,’ they already know the story, so I don’t have to explain it.”
There’s a long history to “Annie” that predates the popular musical. In 1885 poet James Whitcomb Riley wrote “The Elf Child” which eventually became “Little Orphant Annie”. The poem describes the story of an orphan girl named Annie, who entertains other orphaned children with stories and lessons. In 1924, cartoonist Harold Gray turned the poem into a comic strip, “Little Orphan Annie”, which followed the adventures of Annie, her dog, and her adoptive father Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks. The comic inspired a radio show in 1930, film adaptations in 1932 and 1938, and the Broadway musical in 1977. The musical would go on to have four film adaptations in 1982, 1999, 2014 and 2021.
Although her appearance has changed with adaptations over the years, Annie’s common trait is her upbeat, positive personality and her ability to help people feel good and enjoy life. The song’s most famous song, “Tomorrow” is a reflection of Annie’s bonhomie.
In “Annie,” which opens Tuesday night, Drake will play Drake (yes, the same name), the head butler at the Warbucks mansion. Along with Grace Farrell, Oliver Warbucks’ secretary played by Julia Nichol Hunter, Drake helps Annie through her transition from the orphanage to life in the mansion.
“At the start of the show, he’s a very professional, stern butler,” Drake said. “I based it on Mr. Carson from ‘Downton Abbey.’ At the end of the show, Annie helped not only warm her heart, but everyone she meets. For the end of the show, I’m basing her transformation on Martin the butler from ‘Parent Trap’, who is a little more domestic, carefree.
Drake said he enjoyed his character’s journey and noted that one of the show’s overarching themes, hope, is something everyone can relate to and resonates with people of all ages. .
“First and foremost, ‘Annie’ is about hope and optimism, a theme society never tires of,” he said. “‘Annie’ has clearly stood the test of time as its central themes are among the most widespread and necessary for society.”
He added that this show gave him extra excitement because his best friend and fellow Lincoln native, Carly Ann Moore, is also a national tour cast member. Moore is the female swing member and an understudy. The two met 10 years ago while working in community theater, Drake said.
“It’s just the luckiest opportunity in the world to be able to travel the country with your best friend, not to mention travel while doing a musical, which is what you were doing when you first met,” he said. declared.
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