NBCUniversal Alan Toy
Annie Live! has found its Franklin D. Roosevelt.
On Monday, NBC announced that Alan Toy has been cast in the role, making him the first polio survivor to play the 32nd president in the beloved musical. Both Toy, 71, and Roosevelt contracted polio resulting in paralysis.
"It is a huge honor to join such a talented ensemble," Toy said in a press release. "FDR has always been a role model of accomplishment for me, and I'm thrilled to be able to play him."
"I tip my hat to NBC and the producers of 'Annie Live!' for authentically casting a person with a Disability for this role," the actor and activist continued. "I'm proud to represent the community and hope that we will continue to see more of the Disability Community in roles across entertainment media."
Toy joins a star-studded cast for the upcoming live musical, airing Thursday, Dec. 2 on NBC. Taraji P. Henson will star as Miss Hannigan, Harry Connick Jr. as Daddy Warbucks, Nicole Scherzinger as Grace and newcomer Celina Smith as Annie.
Tituss Burgess has taken on the role of Rooster Hannigan, while Megan Hilty is filling in as Lily St. Regis after Jane Krakowski tested positive for a breakthrough case of COVID-19 earlier this month.
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Henson, 51, previously opened up to PEOPLE about playing her iconic character. "Playing the villain is always fun," she said in October. "With Miss Hannigan, there is so much to work with and dig deeper into. It's just such a fun and iconic character to play."
She also expressed excitement about the project's timing, airing just as families are coming together to celebrate the holidays.
"Holidays are an opportunity to bring people together and prioritize happiness and, for me, that's what musicals do," she says. "They're joyous and fun and make you think and just make you feel as though you're part of a larger community."
Annie Live! airs Thursday, Dec. 2 (8 p.m. ET) on NBC.