TV's Live Musicals, Ranked: Annie, Rent, Grease, Hairspray and More

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  • Taraji P. Henson
    Taraji P. Henson
    American actress

NBC’s production of Annie Live! aired Thursday night — but how did it stack up against TV’s other live musicals?

Twelve-year-old Celina Smith, of Atlanta, stepped into the spotlight as the titular orphan, while Harry Connick Jr. (Will & Grace) played Daddy Warbucks and Taraji P. Henson (Empire) filled Miss Hannigan’s sensible shoes. Singer Nicole Scherzinger, Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and Megan Hilty (Smash) were also on hand to lend their pipes to the occasion. While star power certainly helps whet musical fans’ appetites for these televised affairs, as we’ve seen in the past, anything can (and does!) happen once the cameras start rolling.

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Luckily, TVLine readers gave the performance an average grade of “B+,” and we agree: Annie Live! was one of the better offerings among TV’s recent live musicals. Of the 11 productions that have aired since 2013, when The Sound of Music Live! kicked off the trend on NBC, several have dazzled us (here’s to you, The Wiz Live!), while others are best left forgotten (sorry, Peter Pan Live!).

In the list below, we’ve ranked those 11 live productions, including A Christmas Story Live! (which you had probably forgotten about!), the superb Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert and more. (We did, however, exclude Fox’s 2016 adaptation of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and NBC’s Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Musical from 2020, as both were pre-taped in full.)

Which musical tops our list, and how did Annie measure up? Scroll through our ranking below to find out, then drop a comment with your thoughts.

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