August 3, 2017

I just didn’t want to go.

Drive two long hours to St. Louis… to do what? Listen to children sing and dance? Are you serious? There’s Nerf football to be played! I’m the best quarterback in the neighborhood! My friends need me! I can’t go!

I thought my argument was very rational. After all, I was eight years old. That’s enough time to know what’s important in life, right? But the judges in the case – my parents – overruled my objection. I lost the case, and was sentenced to the backseat of the family Buick.

We were going to see the Broadway musical, Annie – my very first musical. As a pouting kid, I hoped it would be my last.

In the late 1970s, Annie was the new #1 show that everybody had to see. But I couldn’t have cared less about musicals. They had nothing to do with sports, the Hulk wasn’t part of the cast, and there wouldn’t be any arcade games in the lobby… so why would anybody want to see a musical?

I never would have dreamed that by the end of the day, I’d be thinking, “I’m so glad Mom and Dad made me go.”

Annie was flat out incredible. Through brilliant songs that became stuck in my head, I learned about life in an orphanage (It’s the Hard Knock Life), the Great Depression of the 1930s (We’d Like to Thank You Herbert Hoover), being grateful for the most important things in life (I Don’t Need Anything But You), and holding on to hope when life isn’t fair (Tomorrow).

If you haven’t seen the 1982 movie version of Annie, do yourself a favor and rent it, stream it, download it – however you watch movies these days – because Carol Burnett’s performance as the perpetually tipsy and disgruntled manager of the orphanage, Miss Hannigan, is one for the ages.

“I’d have cracked years ago, if it weren’t for my sense of humor,” Burnett sarcastically sings while ripping the head off a baby doll during the song, Little Girls. “Why any kid would want to be an orphan is beyond me.”

Despite her cruel treatment of the kids (you can’t keep a straight face when she mimics them), you somehow feel sorry for Miss Hannigan. Life didn’t turn out the way she had hoped, leading to her sulky temperament. So, empathy is yet another lesson I learned from Annie.

I’m so glad St. Luke’s picked Annie to be part of this year’s St. Luke’s On Broadway sermon series. It’s the perfect musical for our “Year Of Gratitude.” Even your kids will agree.

Ed Doney, Staff Writer