Several months after NBC confirmed that its next TV musical special would be Annie Live!, the production has found its leading star in Celina Smith. While the actress is a relative acting newcomer, you can bet your bottom dollar that Celina will soon be an in-demand screen star — and she's not even a teenager yet.
NBC revealed the casting decision in August 2021 after an exhaustive search, and several top acting powerhouses will be joining Celina on the stage.
The network's last musical special was Dr. Seuss' The Grinch Musical Live!, which aired in December 2020 to mixed reviews. Viewers who are missing traditional theatre experiences due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are especially excited to see the beloved Broadway musical hit the small screen for Annie Live!.
Read on to find out where you've seen Celina before and who else is involved in the cast, and to learn when the musical will air on NBC .
Celina Smith will play the titular character in 'Annie Live!' for NBC.
Following a national search and a series of virtual auditions, NBC revealed that Celina Smith would be playing the famous New York City orphan.
"Already a triple threat at the age of 12, Smith will light up center stage," the network wrote in a press statement.
The pre-teen will be showing off her singing chops with "It's a Hard Knock Life," "Tomorrow," and "Maybe," in Annie Live!, and she got her start by playing young Nala in a national tour for the Broadway musical, The Lion King.
Celina is, however, best known for portraying Rebecca on the Nickelodeon series, Tyler Perry's Young Dylan.
The first season of the comedy show concluded in the fall of 2020, and the second season debuted in June 2021.
After her new role was announced, Celina expressed her excitement, and she commemorated those who have previously portrayed the resilient character.
"It's an honor to follow in the footsteps of the talented young ladies who have played Annie before me and I can't wait to start this journey," the Atlanta native said in a statement, per Deadline, following the casting news.
Rehearsals for Annie Live! are slated to commence in October 2021, and the musical will debut on the small screen on Dec. 2.
The actress is joining a star-studded cast for 'Annie Live!'
Though Celina's participation in the musical was only announced in August 2021, the rest of the main characters had been previously cast.
Empire actress Taraji P. Henson will play Miss Hannigan, the villainous character who runs the orphanage that Annie is in at the beginning of the musical. Tituss Burgess, an actor from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and a guest host on Bachelor in Paradise, will star as Miss Hannigan's criminal brother, Rooster.
Harry Connick Jr. is taking on the role of Daddy Warbucks, a billionaire businessman who ultimately decides to adopt Annie. The main cast is rounded out by Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger, who will appear as Daddy Warbucks' secretary and his eventual love interest, Grace.
Annie Live! will debut on Dec. 2 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.