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We Got Annie: A Loveletter to Broadway at the National Theater in D.C.

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When I was in 5th grade, a friend of my dad's came to visit. She was a close friend from his life before my mom and us, but that past life didn't end on bad terms. She had red hair, took the bus, and brought us gifts in heavyweight plastic bags with snap-close handles advertising all kinds of interesting stores. She took us to see La Cage Aux Folles at Broadway at the National Theater in D.C.. She also infested our suburban Maryland house with Big Apple roaches, but I will always be grateful she introduced me to Broadway theater.

Christmas, Senior year of high school, I received one of those big boomboxes with detachable speakers. It was Sony, and I thought it was so effing cool. It was my first CD player. The first CD I got? Cats. The second? Les Miserables. I had seen both at the National Theater in D.C. on field trips.

And now I'm an adult with a job that lets me and my daughter see almost any Broadway show we want at that very same theater.

I have a partnership with Broadway at the National Theater in Washington D.C. It is one of the best perks of this job as I get good tickets to almost every Broadway show that comes to the National Theater in exchange for sharing details about the show and my experience on Instagram.

My mom, my sister, my daughter, and I were all born in January, so we usually do one special day to celebrate all of us together. With such a range in ages, we've often celebrated by going to the theater. My daughter loved the theater since she was young, and it is so wonderful that I can offer her that which I would have dreamed of when I was her age. I do not take this job or this partnership for granted.

a mother, two middle aged daughters and a teen granddaughter are standing in front of the National Theater in DC. They are smiling and the theater marquee is featuring the musical Hairspray

At the National Theater, she and I have seen Hairspray, and Aladdin; Jagged Little Pill and Hadestown; TINA and Beetlejuice. Sometimes, I have been able to get enough tickets to take my mom, my sister, or friends. Everyone I ask is thrilled to be able to see a show at Broadway at the National Theater. And even when it's not the best show (sorry, but Pretty Woman should not have been turned into a musical), everyone always has a great time.

And this month, my daughter and I got to see Annie. Annie! I was born in 1975, and Annie came out in 1982. Frozen mania had NOTHING on Annie in the early 80's. And I was only a couple of years younger than Aileen Quinn, the actress who played the famous orphan in the film.

two young girls standing against a tree in the front yard of a suburban home in 1982. They are both wearing red dresses with white collar and cuffs, white ankle socks, and black patnet leather Mary Janes. They both have gold locket necklaces that were costume jewelry to promote the 1982 film Annie.

Our mom sewed my sister and me matching “Annie” dresses. We had Annie dolls, and we even had Annie broken lockets that came from Toys R Us. We had the Annie soundtrack, and played it over and over on our Fisher Price record player. We acted out the movie, and when we got a VCR, my parents got the movie on Beta.

From when she was a baby until Lockdown, my daughter would spend at least one night a week at my mom's house. My mom would pick Emerson up in the afternoon (and later on, after school). They'd have dinner together (often Stouffers French bread pizza and broccoli) and watch a movie on the TV. My mom had an extensive collection of videos (upgrades from Beta to VHS and DVD), including the original 1982 Annie.

My daughter knew the lyrics to every song in Annie well before the remake with Jamie Foxx. It was one of her favorite movies to watch at my mom's and I know my mom loved it too. My mom would have so enjoyed seeing Annie with all her girls. It was so wonderful to be able to experience it with my daughter.

The Broadway musical Annie inspired the 1982 movie, and the musical was inspired by the comic strip, Little Orphan Annie. Some parts are spot on to the film, and some are drastically different. However, the general story is the same. Some songs you will know by heart, some may be new if you have never seen the musical.

A brown haired mom and her teenage daughter taking a selfie photo in front of a marquee promoting the Broadway muscial Annie at the National Theater in Washington D.C.

It was fantastic. It was charming, and it was fun. We sang along and caught each other's eye at certain parts. A child in the row behind us was adorably precocious, and we gave him the “Sandy” keychain we received as a gift from Broadway at the National; he told me my gold hoops looked like “portals to the land of money,” and the cast got a standing ovation and everyone left the theater smiling.

As we head back to the suburbs, we drive up Independence Avenue, the Capitol in front of us. We drive through the same tunnel in D.C. we've driven through for decades, the same route my parents took with me and my sister in the back seat. That I took with my mom in the passenger seat, and later in the back seat.

Information about Broadway at the National Theater in D.C.

The National Theater gets most of the Broadway tours when they come through. The second oldest continuously running theater in the United States, it is beautiful with the red walls, cream trim, and glistening chandeliers. It looks quite similar to how I remembered it as a child.

The National Theater is on Pennsylvania Avenue, not far from the White House, The Mall, museums, and monuments. There are several nice restaurants and hotels within a few blocks, making it a great activity for a date night or an evening on a vacation to our Nation's Capital.

The Metro Center station for the Metro is two blocks away from the National Theater. You can occasionally find street parking but don't rely on it. The parking garage around the corner on 13th Street offers theater parking for $20. The elevator comes up to the lobby of the office building next door. The office lobby is always open after performances, and it's just a short walk from its doors to the front of the National Theatre.

There are no steps from the garage to the theater. The National Theater has one small elevator; make a right upon entering and find it at the end of the lobby. The second level/Mezzanine has a second concessions stand with seating and cocktail tables, but there are steps to reach it. Here is more information on the National Theater's accessibility.

The upcoming shows at Broadway at the National are pretty fantastic. The Book of Mormon, Peter Pan, and MJ the Musical. Tell them Alison sent you. I wasn't paid or asked to write this, but I love and support theater and live performances and enjoy every time I visit the National Theater. And I want more people to experience the joy of popular Broadway shows here in the DMV!

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9 Comments

  1. Love this so much!! We are a family of theatre geeks (and my daughter has been in something like 25 shows in the last 5 years) and we love when we can see the tours. They’re pricey for us but so worth it!! My husband and I saw Come from Away last weekend, and the teenager and I will see Annie in February!! I remember watching it recorded from TV on VHS a million times when I was a kid.

  2. We love live theater and have been season ticket holders for years! In fact, Thursday night I have a “date night” with my 36-year-old son to see The Lion King at Segerstrom Center for the Arts (SCFTA.org) in Costa Mesa, CA. All three of my kids and now my Granddaughter have been involved with community theater as well as middle school and high school theater programs. Be sure to catch the new Peter Pan starring Nolan Almeida. He’s a friend of my Granddaughter Brynlee Snyder’s and they performed together in Into the Woods last year at Esperanza High School in Anaheim, CA! Keep theater alive!!

  3. How cute is your daughter and her signature pose over your shoulder? She has classic glamour/ Taylor swift vibes.

    It sounds like your mom was there in many ways…..

  4. I totally understand this love letter to the National Theater! During my short 2-year’s period of living in the DC area, one of the best things I did for myself was treating myself to a 4-show Broadway series at the National. Amadeus, They’re Playing My Song (with Lucy Arnaz), Pirates of Penzance (Peter Noone, and Jim Belushi as the stealing-the-show Pirate King), and one more. Over the years since, those have been a bright spot in my memories from that time period. Loved living in DC!

  5. Oh Alison, how I love this post! I too imagine January birthday girl and loved Annie in the 80s! My friends and I performed it’s a hard knock life and our middle school talent show. We didn’t win but I thought we were the best. I love seeing the pictures of you with your family and thank you for sharing your joy and love of theater! Take care, Wendell.

  6. You are so blessed to have this tradition in your family! I subscribe to a similar Broadway series where I live and just saw Funny Girl. Amazing lead actress who rivals Streisand. See it if you have the chance. Thanks for a lovely post.

  7. My (now adult) son is a theatre baby. He’s always loved it. It’s been one thing he and I have been able to share and bond over his whole life. When we moved to a town that had a great theatre, I got season tickets. The time spent on the car rides to and from pouring over the details of the show are some of our greatest memories. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Annie! Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Saw it on broadway at the end of it’s run…
    So glad that you and your daughter got to enjoy it together. I’m sure the memories of your mom made it bittersweet, but so lovely that you had the memories and could share them and the show with each other.

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