“I am saddened to announce I will not be participating in Annie Live!,” said McArdle (via Deadline), who was set to play Eleanor Roosevelt in the live show. “My father is currently in the hospital, and I need to put all of my energy into his health and well-being. I wish everyone involved with the production great success. Break a leg everyone.”
McArdle received a Tony Award nomination for her performance in the original 1977 Broadway production of Annie, where she sang her legendary rendition of the song “Tomorrow.” NBC confirmed her casting in the new special earlier this month after McArdle teased her role during a Today Show appearance.
“We love Andrea McArdle and our entire company is sending best wishes to her and her father,” said Bob Greenblatt, executive producer of Annie Live!. “Our Annie, Celina Smith, is thrilled to have met her and she’s excited about following in her incredible footsteps.”
NBC has yet to announce who will be taking over the role of Eleanor Roosevelt, who briefly appears in the production alongside her husband, President Franklin D. Roosevelt (played by actor Alan Toy), when Annie visits the White House.
The cast also includes Taraji P. Henson as Miss Hannigan, Harry Connick Jr. as Daddy Warbucks, Nicole Scherzinger as Grace, and Tituss Burgess as Rooster. Jane Krakowski was set to star as Lily St. Regis but had to pull out of the show earlier this month after being diagnosed with a breakthrough case of COVID-19 — she will be replaced by Tony-nominated actress Megan Hilty.
Annie Live!, Thursday, December 2, 8 PM ET/PT, NBC