She skyrocketed to stardom in 1977 as Broadway’s original Annie, for which she was the youngest performer ever nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, winning both the Theatre World and Outer Critics’ Circle Awards for her performance.
And yet the Northeast’s very own Andrea McArdle said she never tires talking about the role that gave her the ride of a lifetime.
“New York in the ‘70s was a wonderful place to be. It was a sweet, simple time and so was our show. We had no idea how successful it would be or what it meant to people. To us, it was just like one big party every night.”
But as a matter of fact, looking back, “I owe everything to that show,” said McArdle, who is coming to the Rrazz Room in New Hope Sept. 13-14. “I’ve had such good luck since doing that show and wonderful memories of those times.”
But even before that award-winning show, McArdle was making a name for herself, on TV in Search for Tomorrow, then at a local dinner theater, and finally Broadway. And she hasn’t stopped since.
“I feel very fortunate to still be working very much past those ingénue days,” she said. “I think any child star has to know who they are, and I did. I was always an entertainer. I opened for David Brenner. I toured with Liberace. And I continue to do concerts, and shows, even regional shows just to exercise my theater chops.”
Perhaps one thing that has kept McArdle grounded her whole young performing life was that neither she nor her parents ever thought of her as a star.
“In fact,” she said, “I never missed out on anything, I went to every prom, to every party, and I credit my parents for that. They treated me like every other child. If I missed my curfew, my punishment was cleaning the bathroom early Saturday morning. You better believe I made my curfew because I didn’t want to get up early on a Saturday and do that.”
It might also help that McArdle is still dazzling and young-looking for her age.
“Here I am at 50 still waiting to play 50-year-old people,” she remarks. “I was 38 when I played Belle so I’m waiting for audiences to catch up.”
These days, however, McArdle is focusing on her cabaret act titled ’70s and Sunny, which she’ll be performing in New Hope. She’ll pay tribute to the music of the decade that helped define her as an artist and singer. From Broadway to Billy Joel, from disco to Motown, McArdle will explore her musical roots and reveal how the girl who danced at Studio 54 evolved into the woman she is today.
“Whether it’s the songs of Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Karen Carpenter or Barbra Streisand, they all inspired me. It feels good to go back to those wonderful years — even if just in song.” ••
The Sept. 13 show will start at 8 p.m. The Sept. 14 show will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $35 and $45. Visit www.therrazzroom.com/events