2022-23 season

2022-23 season

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Who’s Who in Annie: A 1930s History Lesson

FDR in 1933 (at age 51)
Annie opens this Friday at the Farmington Players, and while this holiday classic is a favorite of audiences young and old, the play is set 80 years ago in 1933.  So just as you need your playbill to know who’s who in the cast, you might not know all the historical players in this show without a program.  The following is a glossary of sorts – a list of 1930s people, places and parlance mentioned in the musical – to enhance your play-going experience. (Thanks to Karen Southworth and Jerry Gass for their contributions to this article!)

While everyone knows Franklin Delano Roosevelt (portrayed by yours truly), the members of FDR’s cabinet are not exactly household names. 
  • Cordell Hull (Charlie Gass) was FDR’s Secretary of State for 11 years.  He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945 for his role in establishing the United Nations.   
  •  Henry Morgenthau (Mark Krumins) was FDR’s Secretary of the Treasury.  Born in NYC, he played a major role in designing and financing the New Deal.  He also shaped foreign policy and his “Morgenthau Plan” prevented Germany from ever again being a military threat.  
  • Harold L. Ickes (Jim Snideman) served as Secretary of the Interior for 13 years and was responsible for implementing much of FDR’s “New Deal.”
  • Frances Perkins (Anne Craft), Secretary of Labor, was the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet, and served as Secretary of Labor for 12 years. She was largely responsible for the U.S. adoption of social security, unemployment insurance, child labor laws, and federal minimum wage.  
  • Louis Howe served as Secretary to the President, a similar role to today’s Chief of Staff.  Howe helped FDR shape the New Deal and the Civilian Conservation Corps. (In our production of Annie, Louis Howe is a woman, Louise Howe, played by Karen Southworth!)
In addition to the political figures, there are many other cultural references in Annie, including the following (source: Wikipedia) to name just a few:
  •  Beau Brummell (1778 –1840) was a fashion setter in England.  He is credited with introducing the modern men's suit, worn with a necktie. He claimed he took five hours a day to dress, and recommended that boots be polished with champagne. His style of dress is often referred to as dandyism. As Burt Healy sings, “Your clothes may be Beau Brummelly…”
  • Mickey Finn was a 1930s comic strip featuring the exploits of likable Irish-American police officer Michael Aloysius "Mickey" Finn in suburban New York, but a “Mickey Finn” also refers to a drug-laced drink (that the orphans dream of giving to Miss Hannigan).
  • Don Budge (1915-2000) was an American tennis player who was the world’s #1 player for five years in the 1930s.  Grace suggests that they get Don Budge to give Annie tennis lessons.
  • Louis Brandeis (1856-1941) was a justice of the Supreme Court of the US from 1916 to 1939.  In our production, Chris Falkowski plays the judge, who is summoned to perform Annie’s adoption ceremony.
  • Al Smith (1873-1944) was a politician who served as Governor of New York four times, but lost a 1928 presidential bid to Herbert Hoover, as regretted by the residents of Hooverville.
  • Friedrich Austerlitz, a/k/a Fred Astaire (1899-1987) was an American film and Broadway stage dancer.  In Annie, the Warbuck servants refer to “Fred and Adele.” Adele was Fred’s sister and first dance partner until she married in 1932, opening the door for his more famous dance partner Ginger Rogers.
  • Chiang Kai-shek (1887–1975) was a 20th-century Chinese political and military leader. His American-educated wife Soong May-ling was known in the United States as "Madame Chiang", who Warbucks wanted to invite to Annie’s party.
  •        Fiorello La Guardia (1882-1947) was the Mayor of NYC from 1934-45 and is described in Wikipedia as: "Irascible, energetic, and charismatic, he craved publicity and is acclaimed as one of the three or four greatest mayors in American history."  He was only five feet tall, although in "NYC" he is referred to as the "mayor five-foot-two."

The Farmington Players' production of Annie is proudly sponsored by Mall Malisow & Cooney, PC.  The show runs from December 13 to 29.  Tickets are sold out, but see www.farmingtonplayers.org for information on future shows.

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