Hello, Mr. President. Annie Live! has found its Franklin D. Roosevelt in Alan Toy (who Beverly Hills 90210 fans may recognize as Professor Finley). Toy will become the first polio survivor to take on the role of FDR in the musical. The actor and the 32nd president of the United States both contracted polio that resulted in paralysis. “FDR has always been a role model of accomplishment for me, and I’m thrilled to be able to play him,” Toy said in a statement. He went on to praise NBC and the producers of Annie Live! for casting the role authentically. “I’m proud to represent the community and hope that we will continue to see more of the Disability Community in roles across entertainment media,” he concluded.
Toy joins a cast that includes Celina Smith (Annie), Harry Connick Jr. (Daddy Warbucks), Nicole Scherzinger (Grace), Taraji P. Henson (Miss Hannigan), Tituss Burgess (“Rooster”), and — replacing Jane Krakowski — Megan Hilty (Lily St. Regis). The live televised event is set to air on NBC on Thursday, December 2. It’s not tomorrow, but hey, it’s not too many days away.
Update November 24: Toy will no longer be playing husband to the original Annie herself. As previously revealed on the Today show, Andrea McArdle was set to return to the musical in a new role of Eleanor Roosevelt. But according to Deadline, McArdle has had to step away from the role because her father is in the hospital. “My father is currently in the hospital, and I need to put all of my energy into his health and well-being,” she said in a statement. “I wish everyone involved with the production great success. Break a leg everyone.”