It has been nearly 30 years after the original Annie had its run on Broadway, which was already 50 years after 1933, when the show takes place. Children seeing Annie in the original run had the benefit of grandparents and possibly parents who lived through the Great Depression and Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidency, and who could explain the people and concepts to them because they had lived it first-hand. It's 30 years later, and FDR and the icons of the '30s are even further away from popular culture, which is why director James Lapine decided to include projected 1930s-style newsreels like Universal Newsreel and Fox Movietone News.
Projection designer Wendall K Harrington says of the show, "We edited pieces of period footage into newsreels that dovetailed into the overture. Our goal was to immediately settle the audience into 1933 and introduce some images and facts of the Depression in New York for the historically challenged. It was James [Lapine's] idea to add them, and it gave us a chance introduce FDR as well as to set up the character of Warbucks. It was fascinating to look at all the research in light of our current economy, and it certainly gives one perspective."
The newsreels are composed of public domain resources that are found online such as the Prelinger Archives, hosted by archive.org, as well as resources which have to be ordered, like films in the National Archives and Records Administration picture collection. For shots that could not be found in the public domain, Harrington recreated using a green screen studio as well as ordered from stock footage resources such as Historic Films.
Projection Designer: Wendall K Harrington
Associate Projection Designers: Daniel Brodie, Michael Clark
Projection Programmer: Paul Vershbow